The one constituency housing needs most is the one struggling the hardest in the jobs market. Employment among those age 25-34 fell in May to 75.3 percent; this compares to pre-recession rates of 78 to 80 percent employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Having a job matters for housing,” noted Trulia’s chief economist, Jed Kolko. “Just 12 percent of employed 25-34 year-olds live with their parents, versus 20 percent of 25-34 year-olds without jobs.”
First-time homebuyers have been markedly absent from the housing recovery. In April they accounted for just 29 percent of existing homebuyers, according to the National Association of Realtors. Historically, their share hovers around 40 percent.
While younger Americans may be recovering the slowest in the jobs market, even those who are employed are finding themselves more financially strapped than previous generations. Non-homeowners consistently cite financial instability as a contributing factor for not buying a home, regardless of household income, according to a recent survey by RateWatch, a financial data company owned by TheStreet.
“It’s understandable that someone making less than $25,000 a year doesn’t feel like they can afford a home, but it’s shocking that someone who makes over $150,000 a year feels equally poor,” noted Debra Borchardt, markets analyst for TheStreet. “Higher home prices could be a good reason why, with homes hitting record high prices and inventories hitting a low.”
The survey also found that interest rates were extremely important to potential buyers, with the most common maximum rate respondents were willing to pay on a 30-year fixed loan between 4 and 5 percent.
The May jobs report may not bode well for entry-level housing, but it does signal continued strength in the already robust rental market.
“For young people, the housing recovery is still in an early stage: More jobs today means they move out of their parents’ homes and become renters, while homebuying remains years away for many,” added Kolko.
—By CNBC’s Diana Olick.