A smattering of analyst expectations for tomorrow’s jobs report:
Labor market report: Nonfarm payrolls declined 36,000 in February, but there is ongoing debate about whether payrolls might have posted a significant increase in the absence of the blizzards that struck during the February survey week. The forecast looks for a 150,000 increase in March payrolls, with 75,000 of this total accounted for by temporary hiring of Census workers.
Regarding the unemployment rate, we don’t look for a big change. If our 150,000 forecast for nonfarm payrolls is realized, that would imply hiring a little in excess of the trend growth in the labor force.
Our forecast of +275k for Friday’s report on nonfarm payrolls is based on this premise (an underlying increase of 50k, ncluding non-Census government, plus another 100k for a weather rebound and 125k for temporary Census hires). We have not changed this estimate but will keep it under review, as we always do, pending more information on hiring (Conference Board and Monster), claims, and the ISM’s mfg employment index.
For March, we are finally expecting to see a positive net non-farm payroll print. The payroll report for February was encouraging in this regard: it revealed only a modest 36,000 net job loss in a month plagued by winter storms, suggesting the U.S. economy is on the verge of positive employment growth. A strong monthly boost from Census Bureau hiring should be the catalyst that finally pushes the payroll change into positive territory. The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 9.7 percent, though re-entering job seekers could still push the unemployment rate slightly higher in the months to come. Look for additional gains in working hours and hourly earnings to confirm the firmer labor market tone. Jobless claims remain stubbornly high, pointing to a weak underlying trend in private employment growth, and consumer confidence stumbled in light of labor market uncertainty.
Sources: JPM, GS, WFC