The U.S. Department of Labor released a report yesterday on the number of new unemployment claims. The unemployment report for the month of March was released earlier this month and showed that the unemployment rate stayed at 6.7 percent. The Department also releases a weekly jobs claim unemployment report for marchreport that tracks the number of new requests for unemployment.

According to the report, first time unemployment claims rose slightly to 304,000 but is still very close to a 6 ½ year low for claims reported for the previous week. Economists are hoping that this is a sign that the economy is starting to move just a bit faster than before, albeit still at a rather tepid pace. The four-week moving average, which is a better indicator of trends, fell to 312,000 which is the lowest seen since the beginning of the third quarter of 2007. Job growth while positive is still not enough to jump start the economy, as both in February and in March, about 195,000 new non-farm jobs were produced.

These reports seem to be rather common over the past several months in that there are signs of positive growth but not enough to get a national economy back on track. At the same time, the labor participation rate is also at lows not seen in the late ‘70s. Fewer people are actively in the work force.

For real estate investors, this tells two things. One, that interest rates should remain relatively calm well into next year if current trends continue. There really isn’t anything that could prompt the Fed to raise interest rates. Two, while national data presents trends, it can’t be used to identify real estate investment opportunities. Real estate is local and you can’t compare say Detroit with Houston, regardless of any unemployment report. The economy is growing, but barely so.