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Everybody in real estate should keep an eye on the unemployment rate. The jobs picture will determine how bad the real estate markets get.  If companies keep up modest hiring and avoid layoffs, real estate can skate through the rough patch, and recent economic weakness will turn out to be relatively benign. But if companies start announcing hiring freezes and layoffs pick up, watch out. That’s when office markets suffer retrenchments, business travelers cut back on hotels, and consumers really shut down at the mall.  Only recently have employment numbers shown signs of deteriorating.

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