Tags: Jobs | Labor Market | Unemployment Benefits | Economy

'Significantly Worse' Jobs Report Might Be Unpleasant Easter Surprise

By    |   Thursday, 02 April 2015 01:31 PM

Not all economists think Friday’s US jobs report will reflect a blooming labor market. In fact, one expert warned that the data could be “significantly worse” than Wall Street expects and rain on any economic Easter parade.

Payrolls are expected to rise by 245,000 workers in March after climbing by 295,000 the prior month, according to the median projection in surveys by Bloomberg and Reuters the Friday figures from the Labor Department. The unemployment rate probably held at 5.5 percent, the lowest since 2008.

Komal Sri-Kumar, president of Sri-Kumar Global Strategies, warns CNBC that the key jobs number will be between 200,000 and 220,000.

"It's going to be significantly worse than 295,000," he told CNBC.

"Wages are not increasing significantly, and I believe the Fed is correct in saying there is a considerable amount of slack in the market. People are accepting jobs at lower pay, and people are accepting part-time jobs rather than full-time employment."

He also thinks the Federal Reserve won’t hike rates anytime soon. "I think they're cheerleading interest rates and hoping people believe that the inflation rate is headed up … at the same time, the strong dollar and the weakening global economy [low employment and low wages] are pressures we're going to see on exports during the coming months," he said.

At the same time, the U.S. is due for some reconciliation between a slower-growing economy and the "high flying labor market,'' though that may not necessarily happen in the March jobs report, according to Carl Riccadonna, Bloomberg Intelligence chief U.S. economist in New York.

The fallout from troubles in the oil patch, slower global growth and the stronger dollar, especially with respect to manufacturers, will also be things to look for in the jobs report. And maybe some hit from the weather too, according to economists at Morgan Stanley.

The likely market reaction to the data is not evenly balanced. A solid report signals "more of the same'' for labor momentum, while a downside miss would throw a wrench into policy makers' conviction to move on interest rates around mid-year, Riccadonna said.

"As goes the labor market, so too will go the Fed's liftoff plans.''

Meanwhile, the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped significantly last week, a sign of a strong job market despite evidence of tepid economic growth in the opening months of 2015.

Weekly applications for jobless aid fell 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That put jobless claims near a 15-year low of 267,000 filings in late January. The decrease shows that a slowdown in manufacturing and construction has failed to spook employers, who may be anticipating a strong spring rebound after a bleak winter.

"The claims numbers simply do not support the idea that the first quarter slowdown in growth is indicative of some underlying malaise in the economy," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, tumbled 14,750 to 285,500. Over the past 12 months, the average has fallen 11.7 percent.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The relatively low average shows that employers are holding onto workers and may increase hiring. Applications below 300,000 are generally consistent with solid monthly job gains.

Layoffs have stayed close to historic lows, despite a pronounced economic slowdown in recent months.

Snowstorms have kept consumers away from stores and open houses.

The stronger dollar has hurt U.S. factories exporting overseas, since their products have basically surged in price around the world. Similarly, falling oil prices have cut into the production of pipelines, primary metals and machinery. That has also sliced into the bottom line of manufacturers, even though the savings from cheaper oil should eventually spur more spending by consumers.

(Reuters, Bloomberg Business and the Associated Press contributed to this report).

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Economy
Not all economists think Friday's US jobs report will reflect a blooming labor market. In fact, one expert warned that the data could be "significantly worse" than Wall Street expects and rain on any economic Easter parade.
Jobs, Labor Market, Unemployment Benefits, Economy
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2015-31-02
Thursday, 02 April 2015 01:31 PM
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