You know its been a wild week when the monthly NFP is almost an afterthought to the action.
According to Barron’s, consensus for Nonfarm Payrolls M/M change is a loss of -648,000; the range of estimates was -800,000 to -500,000
On Unemployment Rate, the consensus is a bump to 7.9%, and a range from 7.8% to 8.1%.
Under the best of circumstances this is a highly imprecise number that typically overstates job creation, and lags the overall economic cycle.
My best guess is that we will see an 8% handle on unemployment, 750k actual number, which will look like a 670k which will then get revised down closer to reality next month. Expect last months numbers to also suffer a negative revision.
The real question to traders is whether this is already reflected in equity prices.
I am constantly perplexed when each and every horrific data point is greeted as a big negative surprise by people who I can only describe as clueless cave dwellers. Given the nature of NFP, you should not be surprised by any number between -500k and -1M — they are that hard to pin down in real time via current methodologies.
UPDATE: Mat 7, 2009 7:49am
August 2008: Initially 84,000, revised to 175,000
September 2008: Initially 159,000, revised to 321,000
October 2008: Initially 240,000, revised to 380,000
November 2008: Initially 533,000, revised to 597,000
December 2008: Initially 524,000, revised to 681,000
January 2009: Initially 598,000, revised to 655,000
February 2009: Initially 651,000, as released today.
My guess is Feb ’09 gets revised down to my -750k number –or worse . . .
BLS data released 8:30 am
January 2009 NFP Data