The mortgage refinancing boom is winding down and household debt levels are creeping up as consumers edge past the worst of the pandemic’s economic shock.

Mortgage originations dropped sharply in the first quarter of 2022 compared with their 2021 peak, according to a quarterly report on household debt that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released Tuesday.

Last year’s spike was fueled by refinancings from homeowners chasing exceptionally low rates; as rates have risen, demand has cooled. But the overall amount of mortgage debt for new purchases is generally rising, with soaring home prices forcing buyers to borrow more for their homes.

Consumers are comfortably managing their bills, and the deepest distress signals are hovering at historically low levels, the report said. Around 6 percent of consumers have an account in collections listed on their credit reports, far lower than the double-digit rates that were common in the wake of the Great Recession.

And bankruptcy filings are at a two-decade low: New bankruptcy notices in a national sample drawn from Equifax credit reports hit their lowest level since the New York Fed began tracking them in 1999.

Credit card balances fell $15 billion from the previous quarter — a typical seasonal drop after year-end holiday spending — but were $71 billion higher than a year earlier, as consumer spending stayed strong. And lenders are eager for still more: The total amount of credit Americans have available on their cards rose last quarter to $4.12 trillion, nearly 6 percent higher than its prepandemic level.

American Express said last month that spending on its cards set a record in March, driven especially by pent-up demand for business and leisure travel. In the year’s first quarter, banks eased their standards for card and auto loans and reported stronger consumer demand for credit, according to a Federal Reserve survey released on Monday.

DALLAS — Several leading U.S. airlines warned Thursday that the rise in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant is hurting their bookings and further delaying the travel industry’s recovery.

The summer got off to a strong start, with many planes full of vacationers eager to break out after being stuck at home for more than a year. After months of improving travel numbers, however, August was disappointing.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said Thursday that people are still traveling, but key segments – business and international flyers – are still largely missing. He said the rise in COVID-19 cases won’t derail the travel recovery but will delay it by 90 to 120 days.

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Delta said it still expects to post an adjusted pretax profit for the third quarter, but revenue will be toward the lower end of its previous forecast.

United Airlines said its revenue is weaker than previously expected, and it forecast a pretax loss in the third quarter that could extend into the fourth quarter if the virus outbreak continues. It is trimming flights to match the lower demand.

American Airlines said a slowdown that started in August has continued into September, and the airline further lowered its outlook for third-quarter revenue.

Southwest Airlines reported that leisure travel has weakened, with more cancellations and softer bookings for September and October. Southwest said, however, booking patterns for the winter holidays look normal.

Airlines are watching COVID-19 numbers closely and finding hope in the latest figures showing the surge that started in July might have peaked. The seven-day average of cases is roughly flat compared with two weeks ago.

Airline executives say they believe bookings will pick up as soon as case counts go down.

“Things moved downward rather quickly, but they can, I think, move upwards just as quickly,” Andrew Nocella, United’s chief marketing officer, said during an investor conference held by financial-services firm Cowen.

Airline stocks fell shortly after trading began Thursday but then turned higher. By early afternoon, American was up 6% and others rose between 3% and 5%.

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Americans have been willing to travel over the summer and during shorter holiday periods. Air travel over the Labor Day weekend approached 2019 levels — on two days, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2 million travelers.

By Wednesday, however, the number of people going through airport checkpoints dropped back to 1.4 million, down 28% from the comparable Wednesday in 2019.

United’s Nocella warned that travel is likely to slump in October, early November, and the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In a bid to reassure passengers worried about the virus,

Thomas Trutschel | Photothek | Getty Images

Now might be a good time for the Federal Reserve to start worrying about inflation.

August’s jobs report, besides being a big disappointment on the 235,000 headline number, also showed that even with weak hiring, wages are rising.

Average hourly earnings jumped 0.6% for the month, about double what Wall Street had been expecting, and the increase from a year ago stood at a robust 4.3%, up from a 4% rise a month ago. Even leisure and hospitality, which saw zero net job growth in August, saw wages jump 1.3% for the month and 10.3% on the year.

Those numbers come as the Fed is weighing when to start pulling back on the historically easy monetary policy in place since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some voices on Wall Street expect the wage and inflation numbers to start resonating with Fed officials.

“The 5.2% unemployment rate and rapidly rising wages suggest building inflationary pressure that will ultimately lead to more hawkish policy,” Citigroup economist Andrew Hollenhorst wrote in a detailed analysis of the current jobs situation.

While Fed officials mostly discuss the total payroll gains, Hollenhorst said he “would expect this rhetoric to shift a bit, perhaps at the September [Federal Open Market Committee] meeting, with more focus on the high level of job openings and increasing wages.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell went to great lengths in his annual speech in August during the central bank’s Jackson Hole symposium to knock down concerns about rising wage pressures as well as inflation overall, despite consistently higher numbers.

“Today we see little evidence of wage increases that might threaten excessive,” Powell said during the Aug. 27 speech. Measures Powell said he follows – he did not mention the Labor Department’s monthly average hourly earnings figure – point to “wages moving up at a pace that appears consistent with our longer-term inflation objective.”

One specific measure Powell mentioned was the Atlanta Fed’s Wage Growth Tracker.

That measure looks at wages on monthly and 12-month basis and then uses a three-month moving average to iron out distortions. On a smoothed level, the tracker is showing wages rising at a 3.7% pace, fairly consistent with the past few years. Without smoothing, the 12-month rate runs to 4.2%, which is the highest since 2007 and representative of how bumpy the data has gotten lately.

The Atlanta Fed will next update the tracker Friday, giving the Fed another look at potential pressures that could trigger a wage-price spiral, which economists consider “bad” inflation.

Fed officials thus far have attributed higher inflation numbers to supply issues. A continued rise in wages could signal that demand is becoming a factor.

“When it is difficult to disentangle demand from supply effects, price signals become more important to assess the extent of excess demand,” wrote Nomura chief economist Rob Subbaraman.

Concerns about policy

To be sure, there also is evidence that some of the issues that might spur inflation could abate

A help wanted sign is posted at a taco stand in Solana Beach, California, U.S., July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

NEW YORK, Sept 3 (Reuters) – U.S. job growth slowed more than expected in August amid a softening in demand for services and persistent worker shortages as COVID-19 infections soared, but the pace was enough to sustain the economic expansion.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 235,000 jobs last month after surging 1.053 million in July, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate fell to 5.2% from 5.4%. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast nonfarm payrolls increasing by 728,000 jobs and the unemployment rate falling to 5.2%. read more

MARKET REACTION:

STOCKS: S&P e-mini futures slightly extended gains then stalled and were up 0.09%, pointing to a flattish open on Wall Street

COMMENTS:

JJ KINAHAN, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, TD AMERITRADE, CHICAGO

“It is not as bad as it looks. It seems to be a COVID-variant-affected number. The reason I say that is particularly in leisure and hospitality – zero jobs there – that seems really odd. If you think about it, we were getting 300,000 to 400,000 jobs so you get a 500,000 miss, that fills in a lot of that gap. So it was just those restaurants and bars that were opening just took a halt. It also plays out with retail being down 28-1/2 thousand, that is odd. The last one that is odd in here, and they even acknowledge in the report they can’t figure out why, is the state education. If you really put those three together, the only thing I can figure is the Delta variant affecting those numbers and affecting the pace of opening of restaurants and bars. Because there were some good numbers in there and I hate to see that lost – manufacturing, professional services, transportation – all really nice numbers, so there were pockets were things were really going quite well. The public-facing jobs are the ones where things were very odd.”

MICHAEL O’ROURKE, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, JONESTRADING, STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT

“Obviously a big disappointment. The headline number missed… if anything the key takeaway is it allows the Fed to be patient before tapering.

“It’s (overall) mixed but the headline number is going to be the key metric that everyone is focused on, and from a policy perspective, it leaves us in a holding pattern. Hopefully it’s not the Delta variant that’s resulting in a slowdown. We need more data to get a good feel for where things are.”

THOMAS HAYES, MANAGING MEMBER, GREAT HILL CAPITAL, NEW YORK

“The bad news is that it missed by two thirds basically of expectations and the good news is that it gives the Fed cover to push off tapering. It just means more Fed for longer.

“My guess is the announcement will be in November instead of September and the implementation will probably be late this year or more likely early next year. Beginning taper in October is now off the table.”

“So bad

WASHINGTON(Reuters) -U.S. private employers hired far fewer workers than expected in August, likely because of a resurgence in new COVID-19 infections, but the labor market continues to steadily recover.

FILE PHOTO: A hiring sign is seen at the register of Burger Boy restaurant, as many restaurant businesses face staffing shortages in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 7, 2021. REUTERS/Amira Karaoud/File Photo

Private payrolls increased by 374,000 jobs last month after rising 326,000 in July, the ADP National Employment Report showed on Wednesday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast private payrolls would increase by 613,000 jobs.

The ADP report is jointly developed with Moody’s Analytics and was published ahead of the Labor Department’s more comprehensive and closely watched employment report for August on Friday. But it has a dismal record predicting the private payrolls count in the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment report because of methodology differences.

“ADP is far from consistent in predicting changes in the BLS payrolls data,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency economics in White Plains, New York. “Overall, job growth has strengthened in recent months, even as companies continue to report labor supply shortages.”

ADP’s private payrolls print for July far undershot the 703,000 private jobs reported by the BLS. According to the ADP report, leisure and hospitality employment increased by 201,000 jobs in August. Construction payrolls rose by 30,000 jobs, while manufacturing added 6,000 positions.

U.S. stock index futures extended gains after the report. The dollar slipped against a basket of currencies. U.S. Treasury prices were higher.

STRONG LABOR DEMAND

Economists expect hiring remained strong in August, though persistent worker shortages and a resurgence in COVID-19 infections, which are being driven by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, could have slowed momentum.

Labor market indicators were mixed in August. Data from Homebase, a payroll scheduling and tracking company, showed its employees working index falling in August from July.

But the Paychex/IHS Markit employment watch released on Tuesday showed its small business jobs index rose in August to the highest level since January 2018. The Conference Board’s labor market differential – derived from data on consumers’ views on whether jobs are plentiful or hard to get – slipped in August, but it was not too far from July’s 21-year high.

According to a Reuters survey of economists, private payrolls likely increased by 700,000 jobs in August after rising 703,000 in July. With government employment expected to have increased by about 50,000, that would lead to overall payrolls advancing by 750,000 jobs. The economy created 943,000 in July.

“The labor market recovery continues, although the Delta variant is a downside risk to the outlook,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “Demand for labor is strong, the key constraint on near-term job growth will be labor supply.”

Reporting By Lucia MutikaniEditing by Chizu Nomiyama

Editor’s note: This comes as many countries update travel regulations. Learn more about potential travel restrictions to countries in the European Union here.

Hawaii officials are considering a stay-at-home order for Labor Day weekend after the state suffered its worst day ever for coronavirus cases on Sunday.

There were two deaths and 1,678 new cases reported Sunday, the highest total since the pandemic began nearly 18 months ago, the State Department of Health reported.

Hawaii has now surpassed 62,000 cases and nearly 600 deaths since the pandemic began, numbers that have state officials alarmed.

“No matter how you slice it, COVID-19 is running roughshod through the islands, and people must take necessary steps to protect themselves,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green told The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “Vaccinate. Mask. Distance. Stay home when sick. Avoid crowds.”

With cases on the rise, hospitals are being overrun by patients. Health Director Elizabeth Char said 414 people were hospitalized on Sunday with coronavirus, and hospitals are at a breaking point.

“If our numbers continue to press up against 500, I think that the governor and mayors will have to strongly consider life-preserving policy changes, which would at least mean a 72-hour stay-at-home order over the holiday,” Green said. “We saw what happened over July Fourth. Labor Day could be like pouring gasoline over the fire.”

Governor David Ige offered a different message, however, taking to social media Sunday night to dispute that a shutdown is imminent.

“There have been rumors circulating about a shutdown in Hawaii,” Ige wrote on Twitter. “I want to clear the record that there are currently no plans to shut down. All posts on social media being distributed by other means are not true. Official announcements will always come from official channels.”

But Ige himself said last week that a shutdown was “on the table” as Hawaii deals with rising COVID numbers. Last Monday, Ige urged tourists to stay away from the islands right now.

“It is not a good time to travel to the islands. I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii,” Ige said last week. “Is a lockdown on the table? Yes, it would be if the number of cases continues to grow exponentially as it has in the last 10 weeks. Then we will have to take action to limit and ensure that the hospitals aren’t overrun.”

Green said top government and health officials will meet early this week to discuss the numbers and a plan for action. But as residents and tourists await a decision, the numbers continue to look grim.

“This tidal wave of cases is straining our ability to respond at all levels — our hospitals, our labs and even our morgues are nearing or at capacity,” Char said. “We have not yet reached the peak of this surge, and we will not until Hawaii residents take further steps to protect themselves and their families.”

One doctor told Hawaii News Now that there is no other option at this point.

“Our

Hawaii had strict travel requirements to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Over time, some of those measures have been eased.

Now, however, a troubling rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases has both state and local officials alarmed. Consequently, there are ongoing discussions about re-instituting some travel restrictions or possibly implementing new measures to slow the spread of the virus.

While 62 percent of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated, this past Sunday was a record day — with a 1-day high of 885 new cases of COVID-19.

In a Honolulu Star-Advertiser article, Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Josh Green says that there were 392 COVID-19 patients in hospitals Sunday.

While officials are considering pre-travel COVID-19 testing, that requirement could be challenged legally, Green says in the article. That’s especially true given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been promoting vaccination status as the standard for travel restrictions, Green continued.

Another alternative under consideration is a mandate that would require people to produce vaccination cards before they can enter gyms, restaurants, and other public places, Green explains.

“All we really have to do, is work with either Clear or CommonPass, who we already have a deep relationship with, who are helping us with the Hawaii Safe Travels program to show that people are vaccinated,” Green said in a Khon2 article. “It may very well make things easier in life because then people can go to concerts and be vaccinated and safe.”

Input From Mayors

It isn’t just the governor’s office that is concerned about the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases. Mayors have also been in close communications with Green and Hawaii’s governor, David Ige.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said in the Khon2 article that the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 is a concern for the county. It is now, “time to take action and request more restrictions,” he continued.

“It’s spreading all over, all over the state, all over this county,” Victorino said.

Last week, Hawaii island Mayor Mitch Roth asked Governor Ige in a letter to reinstate a pre-travel testing program for all visitors and residents flying into Hawaii– regardless of vaccination status.

“The consistent rise of COVID-19 cases within the state of Hawaii and across the country has reached record heights and has put an unbearable strain on our health systems and communities at-large,” Roth wrote, the Star-Advertiser story reports. “On Hawaii Island alone, our hospitals are at capacity and are unable to in-take any more critical care patients.”

Mayor Rick Blangiardi of Honolulu announced that large gatherings on the island of Oahu will be suspended for the next 4 weeks starting on Wednesday. Large gatherings include sporting events, weddings, various attractions on the island, and other situations in which over 10 people get together indoors or over 25 outdoors.

A Cautious Approach

Lieutenant Governor Green has said that Hawaii’s Safe Travels travel program — used to monitor all travelers — was expected to end in September when 70 percent of Hawaii’s population is

Sydney (CNN) — Quarantine-free travel from all Australian states and territories to New Zealand will be suspended, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced on July 23.

The news comes as Australia continues to grapple with a Covid outbreak spreading through multiple states despite lockdowns.

“Given the high level of transmissibility of the Delta variant, and the fact that there are now multiple community clusters, it is the right thing to do to keep Covid-19 out of New Zealand,” Hipkins said.

From 11:59 p.m. Friday (7:59 a.m. EST), Australians will no longer be able to enter New Zealand quarantine-free for at least the next eight weeks.

Ardern said the decision was not taken lightly, but with “multiple outbreaks, and in differing stages of containment” with three Australian states in lockdown, “the health risk to New Zealanders from these cases is increasing.”

The Australian state of New South Wales — home to Sydney — reported 136 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours, while Victoria — home of Melbourne — announced 14 new cases over that same period. South Australia reported one new case.

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would ask the federal government for more Pfizer vaccine doses to be allocated to the state for use in Sydney’s west and southwest, both of which are currently virus hotspots.

The quarantine-free trans-Tasman exchange (usually referred to as a travel bubble) kicked off between the two countries in April.

Roughly half of Australia’s population, some 13 million people, is now under some form of lockdown as the country works to stem the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant amid a slow vaccination rollout.

The ever-changing regulations vary from state to state within Australia. People who violate lockdown rules — including the man who sneaked out of hotel quarantine with a bed sheet and the two naked sunbathers who claimed they were on the run to escape a deer — are subject to fines, arrest and even deportation.

Meanwhile, Australia recently halved its international arrivals cap. As of the week of July 14, about 3,000 people per day are permitted to fly into Australia, down from about 6,000.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, there are some 34,000 Australians who have identified themselves as being stuck in a foreign country and unable to come home.

The department on Monday raised its travel advisory level for the UK to “Level 4: Do not travel” due to Covid-19. The decision, which aligns with a separate US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update, comes the same day that Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted most of England’s remaining pandemic-related restrictions.

Noting the CDC’s decision earlier Monday to raise its UK Risk Assessment Level for Covid-19 to “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High,” the department said in its updated travel advisory that there “are restrictions in place affecting US citizen entry into the United Kingdom.”

“Your risk of contracting Covid-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine,” the advisory continues. “Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC’s specific recommendations for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.”

The department’s advisory level for the UK was most recently at “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” because of the pandemic.

While most of the UK’s adult population is now fully vaccinated, new cases are approaching 50,000 a day — the highest rate of infection since January — and hundreds of thousands more people have been told to isolate by a contact tracing app that tracks their possible exposure to someone who has been infected.

Despite Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland — the other, less populous, nations of the UK — being highly vaccinated, it is only England that moved to ease most restrictions on Monday.

Mandatory mask-wearing is gone, limits on the numbers of people who can mix indoor or outdoor have ended, social distancing will be limited to people who have tested positive for the virus and airports, and venues like nightclubs and sports stadiums are free to open at full capacity.

Meanwhile in the US, concerns over the highly transmissible Covid-19 Delta variant and vaccine hesitancy are increasing, with doctors in several states suffering from surges saying the variant is sending younger and previously healthy people — the vast majority of whom have not been vaccinated — to hospitals.

“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week.

CNN’s Luke McGee contributed to this report.

A United Airlines passenger aircraft arrives over the top of residential houses to land at Heathrow Airport in west London, Britain, March 13, 2020.

Matthew Childs | Reuters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department on Monday said to avoid travel to the U.K. as the delta variant of Covid-19 continues to spread.

The warnings are “Level 4,” the CDC and State Department’s highest. While not binding, they come after airline executives and other members of the travel industry have pressed the Biden administration to loosen existing Covid travel restrictions that have devastated demand for international bookings.

The United States has had an entry ban in place for non-U.S. citizens from the EU, U.K. and other countries for much of the coronavirus pandemic, though several European nations have recently opened their doors to international visitors. Canada, however, said Monday it will allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens into the country for nonessential travel starting Aug. 9.

The White House and the British Embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The CDC said if individuals must travel to the U.K., they should be fully vaccinated against Covid. Meanwhile, England lifted remaining Covid-19 restrictions on Monday, allowing for indoor gatherings and the reopening of nightclubs.

But Covid infections remain high across the U.K. with 316,691 cases reported over the last seven days, up by about 43% from the previous seven-day period, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

U.S. airline stocks fell sharply on Monday as an increasing number of Covid cases raised concerns about the economic recovery and the potential impact on the recent resurgence in travel demand after a slump for much of the past year.

Covid cases in the U.S. have jumped by about 66% in the past week to a seven-day average of about 32,300 new cases per day, according to Johns Hopkins data.

— CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.