Good news -- possibly

What's the most important thing a home buyer needs? A job -- which is why anyone interested in the fate of the housing market will be equally interested to know that Maryland employers created 10,000 jobs last month.

Well -- sort of.

Stay with me here.

As it often the case with economic surveys, the Labor Department figure comes with asterisks. The number is preliminary and could be revised down the road. It's also adjusted to try to account for seasonal variations -- the normal ups and downs of employment, like school bus drivers losing their jobs in early summer. As it happens, the state says, it's been a particularly difficult year to adjust because the usual patterns are all cattywampus.

Unadjusted, the job numbers are actually down, not up. But employment always falls in July because it's being compared with employment around June 12, when school is usually still in session. The 6,300-job decline last month is the smallest for a July since 1999.

Thus, a big seasonally adjusted gain. The biggest in four years.

It might be all statistical noise -- unemployment is up. But I've been hearing some encouraging things. Job search engine says Baltimore had the second-most job postings per capita among large metro areas in the second quarter (second only to Washington). And it has the third-best ratio of postings to unemployed residents -- 1 to 1.

Some of that is about the power of relativity -- as in, it's worse elsewhere. Job postings in Baltimore are down 5 percent from a year ago, vs. a 30 percent drop nationwide, says.

It sure would be good for the housing market, and especially the foreclosure rate, if job creation revs up in a big way.

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