Media Moves

Coverage: What to expect in Friday’s jobs report

April 5, 2019

Posted by Chris Roush

The U.S. government releases the March job market on Friday, and economists expect that employers added a seasonally adjusted 175,000 jobs during the month, while the unemployment rate held at 3.8 percent.

Eric Morath of The Wall Street Journal had the story:

The March report will show whether employers have significantly downshifted hiring plans or whether February was just a sputter during long stretch of job gains. Hiring slowed to a crawl in February, with employers adding just 20,000 workers to payrolls. That came after January’s robust gain of 311,000 jobs.

Economists expect March to split the difference. That would be in line with projections for hiring to gradually slow as a tight labor market makes it difficult for employers to find workers. However, a figure below 100,000 would likely sound alarm bells about employers losing confidence and the economy decelerating.

The unemployment rate is expected to hold near a half-century low, signaling the labor market remains extremely tight. That is good news for job seekers, with the possibility of plentiful openings and often better pay. It isn’t necessarily great news for the economy. If employers can’t find the workers they need, output could slow, crimping the pace of economic growth. Keep in mind, the unemployment rate tends to be a lagging indicator.

Patti Domm of CNBC reported that a strong report could ease the market’s fears of a recession:

Companies seem to have done a lot of hiring in March, and if Friday’s jobs report is as strong as expected, it could go a long way towards reducing speculation that a recession is coming and that the Fed will have to cut interest rates to stop it.

Like every jobs report, this one is important, but economists say even more so, after the stunningly weak February report, with just 20,000 jobs created. That data added to growing concerns this winter that the economy could tip into a recession sometime in the next year. But economists believe that report was an anomaly, and the real pace of job growth is closer to the consensus forecast for March of 180,000 payrolls.

Economists also expect an average hourly wage increase of 0.3 percent and an unchanged unemployment rate at 3.8 percent, when the report is released at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday, according to Refinitiv.

Emily McCormick of Yahoo Finance reported that private payroll data from earlier this week was lower than projections:

Friday’s jobs report follows ADP/Moody’s results on private payrolls, which were released earlier this week. That data revealed a gain of 129,000 new positions in March. This came in below estimates of 175,000 — although February’s reading was upwardly revised by 14,000 to 197,000.

While many economists point out that ADP/Moody’s report has historically been an imperfect indicator of the BLS’s results, others acknowledge that it helps counterbalance noise in the “official” establishment survey.

“The upward revision to ADP’s February estimate suggest that ADP’s data show a notably different pattern relative to the numbers from the BLS and that ADP expects February’s BLS numbers to be revised up on Friday,” Nomura economist Lewis Alexander wrote in a note.

“In that sense, it is possible that the BLS March employment report will show a weaker-than-expected March employment gain but with strong upward revisions to February,” he added.

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