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Rate survey: Credit card interest rates remain flat

Kelly Dilworth

Interest rates on new credit card offers remained fixed this week, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 14.95 percent Wednesday after slipping by 3 basis points the first week of June. 

Card issuers left APRs alone this week. For the first time in about a month, issuers also made no changes to promotional offers, including introductory APRs and balance transfers. 

Until this week's lull, issuers had been active this quarter compared to the first quarter of 2013, when changes to card terms were rare.

Over the past two months, for example, the national average has changed four weeks out of eight due to issuers modifying the rates on their cards. In the first quarter of the year, the national average remained flat 10 weeks out of 13. 

Job market improving
Issuers have begun ramping up their marketing efforts and tinkering with credit card terms in order to attract new and profitable cardholders at a time when cardholders' job prospects are slowly but steadily improving.

The economy added 175,000 jobs in May, modestly beating economists' estimates, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department.

The department's figures, including revised employment data for March and April, say the economy has added an average of 189,200 jobs per month for the past five months. That's a considerable improvement from the same period in 2012, when the economy added an average of 166,400 jobs per month in the first five months of the year.    

Despite the substantial increase in new jobs, the unemployment rate ticked up from 7.5 percent to 7.6 percent in May, but that, too, is a positive sign: The rate increased because more people re-entered the workforce, looking for jobs.

A survey of employers released Tuesday by the staffing agency Manpower suggests that the new job-seekers may have luck: Employers are poised to absorb a larger number of those workers in the months ahead, the survey said.

Manpower's Employment Outlook survey, which queries 18,000 employers across the country, found that 22 percent of them say they plan to hire more people in the third quarter of 2013 -- up from 18 percent in the previous quarter. Just 6 percent say they plan layoffs.

Hiring expectations have improved steadily since 2009, according to the survey, but are still well below pre-recession levels.

Industries with the biggest percentage increase in the number of employers who say more jobs will be available by fall include construction, hospitality and retail -- all three of which greatly depend on consumer spending.

Consumers, meanwhile, say the economy still weighs heaviest on their minds these days (with unemployment a relatively close second), according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday. But even that report sounded a bright note: The percentage of consumers who say that high unemployment is "the most important problem facing this country today" has fallen significantly over the past three years, showing that Americans are feeling more comfortable with the current job market than they have since 2009.

"Americans' longstanding concern with economic problems is easing," wrote Gallup's Frank Newport in a news release announcing Gallup's results. Still, "it remains fairly prominent in Americans' minds."

See related: Fed: Card balances ticked up in April , People are managing cards better, survey finds