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DS News Webcast: Monday 4/7/2014

The Department of Housing and Urban Development's latest housing scorecard for March showed progress in the housing market, but cautioned that the national economy is still healing from the Great Recession. HUD found that newly initiated foreclosure starts were approximately 51,000, down 9 percent from January and down 27 percent from a year ago. Foreclosure starts were at their lowest levels since December, 2007. Repossessed properties were also down, declining 33 percent from the previous year.

A bright spot in the report highlighted the Obama administration's loss mitigation programs. HUD found that government programs have extended mortgage aid nearly 7.6 million times to homeowners between April, 2009 and February, 2014. The Making Home Affordable Program has helped 2 million homeowners, while the Home Affordable Modification Program has assisted 1.3 million homeowners. The scorecard noted that HOPE Now lenders had offered families and individuals more than 4 million property modifications through January.

The Department of Labor reported 192,000 new jobs in March, down slightly from February's revised job growth of 197,000. Despite last month's apparent strength, the overall unemployment rate stubbornly stayed at 6.7 percent, unchanged from February. Perhaps more encouragingly, the number of long-term unemployed, which are people jobless for 27 weeks or longer, inched down slightly to 3.7 million. Although at 35.8 percent, the share of long-term unemployed remained high.

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