CHICAGO, July 20 Home-owner reluctance to sell
their dwellings to relocate for a new job has played little
part in boosting the U.S. unemployment rate, research from the
Chicago Federal Reserve Bank showed on Wednesday.
Job vacancies rose after the end of the Great Recession,
but the pace of hiring did not pick up as fast, prompting some
observers to blame "house lock" for adding to jobless woes. A
weak housing market, they speculated, may cause home-owners to
forgo jobs in other cities or states rather than sell their
homes at a loss.
But home-owners were just as likely as renters to move to
another state to take a job, according to the research,
published Wednesday in the latest Fed Letter. And workers in
states with large declines in housing prices were no more
likely to stay put than were workers in states where home
prices fell less steeply, the research showed.
"Given our findings and the significant amount of other
current evidence, we conclude that there is little empirical
evidence that house lock has been an important driver of the
recent high unemployment rate," wrote economic advisor Daniel
Aaronson and associate economist Jonathan Davis.
The finding may be good news for the unemployment rate,
which registered 9.2 percent in June. If workers were not
moving to take jobs for fear of losing money on their homes,
unemployment might not be expected to drop much as long as the
housing market remains moribund.
Sales of previously owned U.S. homes touched a seven-month
low, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Andrew Hay)