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The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 last week.  Claims totaled 214,000, down from the week before. Although the number reflects a labor market that remains tight, the Federal Reserve noted with the release of the minutes from their September meeting that conditions had eased somewhat. The unemployment rate stands at 3.5%, matching a record low, while there are more than 10 million positions open, or roughly 1.7 jobs for every available worker.

Existing homes are selling at the slowest pace since September 2012.  Sales of previously owned homes fell 1.5% in September from August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.7 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors.  That marked the eighth straight month of sales declines. Sales were lower by 24% year over year.  Sharply higher mortgage rates are causing an abrupt slowdown in the housing market. The average rate on the 30-year fixed home loan is now just over 7%, after starting this year around 3%. That is making an already pricey housing market even less affordable.

Taxpayers will get fatter standard deductions for 2023 and all seven federal income tax bracket levels will be revised upward as the government allows people to shield more of their money from taxation because of persistently high inflation.  For couples who file jointly for tax year 2023, the standard deduction increases to $27,700 up $1,800. Single taxpayers and married people filing separately will see their standard deduction rise to $13,850, up $900.

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