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World waits on the Fed, the Fed waits on jobs

As the world waits on the Federal Reserve, the Federal Reserve waits on the Labor Department.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and her cohorts will be looking closely at Friday’s employment report as they weigh when to begin raising interest rates. The next three monthly jobs reports are crucial for the Federal Reserve, says Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at consulting firm McGladrey. If the Fed is going to start raising rates, Brusuelas says, it’s “going to want to see a real steady improvement in job creation and in the internals of the report.”

Most economists believe the Federal Reserve will start hiking rates in June of next year. Brusuelas thinks the move will begin a little sooner, in March of 2015. One of the most important numbers the Fed is looking for specifically in Friday’s report, Brusuelas believes, is the employment-to-population ratio among 25 to 34 year-olds. The Fed has been disappointed in the housing recovery, says Brusuelas, and needs to see that section of the population working with strong wages which would allow a contribution to the housing market.

Home prices in major U.S. cities rose at the slowest rate in two years. New home purchases surged 18% in August to the highest level in more than six years, but sales of existing homes unexpectedly fell last month from a year earlier. Mortgage rates are low, but credit is tight. Without jobs or strong wages, Millennials can’t get in.

But there is reason to be hopeful, Brusuelas says. Despite disappointing numbers in August, economists are expecting proof of more solid job growth in Friday’s employment report. Most economists are expecting 220,000 jobs created in September. U.S. employers added just 142,000 jobs in August. It was the smallest gain in eight months and snapped a six-month streak of 200,000 or more jobs created. Brusuelas expects those numbers to be revised higher.

U.S. manufacturing is playing a big part says Brusuelas even though a report out this week showed growth at a slightly slower pace in the month of September. Brusuelas is expecting an outsized leap in hiring in the sector. “Manufacturing is booming,” says Brusuelas. “Autos and airplanes are really ‘happening’ right now.”

According to Brusuelas, more broadly mid-sized and small firms are hiring at the same pace as large firms, and that is key, says Brusuelas. “We are finally seeing the real economy start to perk up. This is the non-financial sector. This is the heart and soul of the American economy.”