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Small biz PPP bump; Mortgage market peak; Blue collar jobs 👷‍

By February 22, 2021 No Comments

Starting tomorrow, only small business can apply for PPP loans

Small businesses have struggled through the pandemic. Many mortgage broker shops fit into the range the administration is setting aside to get special access to PPP funding.

So, if you work at a firm with fewer than 20 employees, tomorrow will be a big day for you. 

Here’s the back story: Six weeks into the second run of the Paycheck Protection Program, $134 billion in emergency aid has been distributed by banks, which make the government-backed loans, to 1.8 million small businesses. But a thicket of errors and technology glitches has slowed the relief effort and vexed borrowers and lenders alike (paywall, NYT).

On Monday, the Biden administration unveiled a number of changes to address some problems and ensure that the most vulnerable small businesses get priority. For two weeks starting Wednesday, only businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be able to apply for loans. Under the general rules, businesses with up to 500 employees are eligible for aid.

The administration said that it is not uncommon that these businesses need more time to file the appropriate paperwork. The statement said that self-employed individuals will also have a chance to qualify for more financial support.

Biden's team is also carving out $1 billion to direct toward sole proprietors, such as home contractors and beauticians, the majority of which are owned by women and people of color.

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Has the mortgage market finally hit its peak?

Investors fueling an initial public offering bonanza are snubbing many U.S. mortgage provider stock market debuts over concerns that the sector might have reached its peak, according to coverage that first appeared in Reuters. 

Five mortgage vendors and lenders have scaled back or canceled plans to go public in the last four months, as investors flinched at their frothy valuations. This may bode poorly for IPOs by other home loan providers such as and NewRez.

Recent trading in loanDepot, for example, has been less than positive. In trading yesterday, there was no spark from investors looking to cash in on the hot mortgage market. Both Rocket and UWM also had tough days yesterday. 

For some, this could be a sign of the beginning of the end.

“Investors don't like buying into a company at the start of a down cycle, and mortgage originations are an extremely cyclical business,” said Matthew Kennedy, a senior strategist at IPO-focused research firm Renaissance Capital.

The investor pushback reflects concerns about the industry outlook, as mortgage rates gradually creep up with the economic recovery, and home price inflation begins to weigh on purchases. 

Whether or not this skittishness will come over to our side of mortgage lending, we won’t know. But some more analysts are speculating that prices may be slowing, even with inventory at record lows.

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Blue-collar jobs come roaring back

Don’t feel like working today? We get you. But how about this young man who went to pretty extreme lengths to get out of work — by faking his own kidnapping. If only he’d apply that energy into his work…

Some would say he is lucky to even have a job. If he was a blue-collar worker, his services would actually be in demand. 

That’s because America’s blue-collar workforce is filled with signs of a strengthening job market.

Strength in housing and e-commerce during the pandemic has helped propel hiring in blue-collar occupations, which were hard-hit by previous recessions.

On the last business day of December, the number of job openings was little changed at 6.6 million, a decrease of 358,000 from February 2020. 

However, there were 1,523,000 job openings in professional and business services, an increase of 296,000 from the prior month. Since February 2020, job openings in professional and business services increased by 166,000. Clicking the link above will show a loss in the construction industry, for now, and will likely turn into positive territory in the coming months.

Factory work is also in high demand. 

After carrying out an orderly retreat from assembly lines as the pandemic arrived in the U.S., many manufacturers pulled out the playbook they followed in past recessions, cutting costs and preserving cash. That left them unprepared for the sharp rebound in consumer demand that began just weeks later and never let up (WSJ paywall).

Manufacturers have been trying to catch up ever since, the article states. Nearly a year since initial coronavirus lockdowns in the U.S., barbells, kitchen mixers, mattresses and webcams are still hard to find.

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