Tomorrow, we get official numbers on how many jobs the U.S. economy created in April.
The median estimate among market economists surveyed by Bloomberg is for 140,000 new nonfarm payrolls, up from last month's dismal 88,000 figure.
Private payrolls are expected to come in at 151,000, implying an 11,000-head reduction in government employment last month.
ADP's monthly employment report released Wednesday estimated that only 119,000 new private payrolls were added in April, well below consensus estimates for a 150,000 print.
On the other hand, we've seen some fantastic improvement in the trend in initial jobless claims over the past few weeks. Thursday's weekly claims release revealed that initial claims fell to 324,000 in the week ended April 27, notching a new post-crisis low.
BofA Merrill Lynch economist Ethan Harris is on the bearish side of the consensus estimate. He thinks the report will reveal that only 125,000 new nonfarm payrolls were created in April. He also expects the headline unemployment rate to tick up to 7.7%.
Harris writes in a preview of the report:
There are a number of factors potentially influencing non-farm payrolls this month. First, the sequester likely reduced government jobs and weighed on private sector expansion. Although the government did most of its cost cutting through furloughs, we suspect there were also some outright job cuts. We are penciling in a decline of 25,000, but the risk is that this is too conservative.
Moreover, the private sector will likely be impacted. At a minimum, it likely reduced hiring in those industries most closely exposed to the government, such as defense contracting. We think it will ultimately result in outright job cuts, but this may occur with a lag, as suggested by the continued drop in initial jobless claims.
Second, there has been greater-than-normal seasonality in the past two months. March was particularly cold with snowfall in parts of the country, likely curbing economic activity. This would show up in retail and construction jobs in particular, which we think were both held back in March due to the weather.
There is another reason to expect a weak nonfarm payrolls number tomorrow: the April survey only covers four weeks of data, as opposed to the typical five-week window used to conduct the survey.
UBS economists are looking for a below-consensus print of 130,000 nonfarm payrolls, but they attribute it to the shortened time period covered by the April survey.
"The softness in headline payrolls that we forecast reflects technical oddities rather than fundamental weakening," says UBS economist Sam Coffin. "The relatively short interval between March and April payroll surveys, with a four-week rather than five-week gap between them, has historically been associated with April payrolls about 60,000 below the surrounding trend."
Société Générale economist Brian Jones acknowledges this effect in his preview of the Friday jobs report as well, but is decidedly more optimistic: he projects 175,000 new nonfarm payrolls in April and expects the unemployment rate to tick down to 7.5%.
In his preview, Jones writes:
Capping a week of decidedly spotty data, we expect the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to report that the employment situation in the United States improved further in April. Although once again falling shy of the psychologically important 200,000 mark, nonfarm establishments probably added 175,000 net new workers last month, marginally eclipsing the 168,000 first-quarter average.
Estimated insured unemployment statistics, meanwhile, suggest that the civilian jobless rate remained on a downtrend during the month just passed, moving one tick lower to 71⁄2% –the lowest reading since the end of 2008. The remaining key establishment survey metrics are projected to be mixed in Friday’s report. Average hourly earnings likely quickened, rising by 0.2% following no change in the preceding month. The mean work span of private employees probably shortened to 34.5 hours.
The April nonfarm payrolls report is due out at 8:30 AM ET. Follow the release LIVE on Business Insider >
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