Let’s play “Surprise the Economists!”

Here’s some of the responses from various Economists, via WSJ:

“The payroll gain of 1,000 jobs is “quite shocking. … I would certainly have not expected anything resembling that.”
— Bill Cheney, chief economist, John Hancock Financial Services

* * *
The minuscule payroll gain “calls into question a strong recovery in the labor market” despite the drop in the jobless rate.
— Bill Quan, economist, Mizuho Securities

* * *
“Over the next few months, all the signs are that payroll employment will rise dramatically.” But this report “does not help the cause of a May tightening” of the Fed’s monetary policy.
— Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist, High Frequency Economics

* * *
“Even the positive signal from additional [temporary-worker] hiring is offset by a shorter workweek. The [Fed] will not begin to raise interest rates until substantial job creation returns regardless of how strong economic growth is.”
— Steven Wood, chief market economist, Insight Economics

* * *
“The continued softness in employment suggests productivity growth remains very strong, supporting profits … and GDP growth. For a market keen to gauge when the Fed may begin to tighten, today’s disappointment should push expectations of the first move later in 2004.”
— Daragh Maher, economist, ING Capital Markets

* * *
“Overall, a weak report across the board despite the drop in the unemployment rate. When coupled with upcoming inflation data that is likely to drop further, this must have the Fed somewhat worried. All this suggests that there will be no Fed hikes whatsoever in 2004.”
— Ian Morris, chief economist, HSBC

* * *
“We’re at least about three to four million jobs below where we should be.”
— James Glassman, economist, J.P. Morgan

* * *
“We don’t have evidence of solid job creation, and that must be factored into economic and financial projections for the rest of the year.”
— William Sullivan, senior economist, Morgan Stanley

* * *
“Disappointing employment implies more productivity rather than lower [gross domestic product] for late 2003. Signs of a significant employment turn, including weekly claims and business surveys, imply a pickup in early 2004. We do not alter our U.S. expectations for 2004. Lack of employment in this report only highlights the ongoing employment risk.”
— Stephen Gallagher, chief U.S. economist, SG Corporate & Investment Banking

* * *
“Neither business nor potential employees have confidence in the economy. … Hopefully, employment gains will be much healthier during the second half of the year. By then this recovery will be three years old, persuading businesses to start hiring more people.”
— Sung Won Sohn, chief economic officer, Wells Fargo

Updated January 9, 2004 12:28 p.m.

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