A few things worth mulling over while we await that data point:
• Trend: The overall trend for the past 3 years has been decellerating job creation, and increasing unemployment. Of the two, job creation is the data series that has gotten appreciable worse the fastest;
• Birth/Death adjustment typically swings from a big negative in January to a big positive in February. This may skew today’s results upwards.
• ADP data was a big downside surprise;
• Unemployment rates have only begun to move up, 0.50% off of the lows
to ~4.9%. Initial and continuing claims for jobless benefits have been rising steadily. The risk is if and when this series begins to accelerate upwards.
• Today’s consensus number is for 25,000 new jobs, from a range of -50,000 to +50,000;
• For unemployment, the consensus is a 5.0%, with a range from 4.9% to 5.1%. No one thing UR is getting any better, but few think its is getting much worse too quickly.
Rex Nutting points out two additional factoids: 1) The number of consumers who say jobs are hard to get increased sharply in the Conference Board survey in February; and, 2) Employment subindexes have fallen in the Institute for Supply Management and other similar business surveys. Neither of these are positives leading into today’s NFP.
Remember, any single data point in a volatile series is relatively meaningless; Its the overall trend that matters.
Note: I am out of pocket for the next few hours, ending up at Bloomberg TV, and won’t be able to follow up for some time . . .
Job growth has slowed to a crawl, economists say
MarketWatch, 7:39 p.m. EST March 6, 2008