Each week the Labor Department release weekly figures for the number of new unemployment claims. Every Thursday, markets can get a taste of what the current jobs picture looks like by tracking the number of people out of work seeking benefits. And for the week ending July 5, the Laborunemployment claims fall Department reported there were a seasonally adjusted 304,000 new claims.

If that sounds like a lot to you it’s not. At least in relative terms and if you’re not one of the unfortunate 304,000. Instead, the 304,000 number is actually the lowest it has ever been since before the recession began in 2007. Even the more reliable four-week moving average touched a milestone at 311,500, the second lowest reading since the start of the recession. The unemployment report for June also showed a rather healthy gain with 288,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate down to 6.1%. So what does that tell real estate investors?

It’s an indication that the economy is slowly getting better but not quite at a break-neck pace. But the number of new claims as well as the reduction in rate is sometimes difficult to parse. There are currently around 2.6 million Americans receiving unemployment compensation, that’s still a lot of people out of work. And the number of part-time jobs is also part of the number of new jobs counted each month. It’s difficult to attribute the gradual gains to any one source but what many are expecting with such a slow recovery is that mortgage rates will remain relatively low for quite some time, well beyond the end of the current QEIII program scheduled to halt in Q4.

Low rates mean greater cash flow for investors while simultaneously allowing more buyers to enter the real estate market. Low rates can’t last forever but it seems we’ve been saying that for years now. And in fact we and others have. But if you’re thinking of making a purchase and financing it for the long term, don’t expect rates to go back down of any consequence. The only thing that’s for sure is higher rates. The other factor is we don’t know when those rates will begin their upward journey.