Congrats! We made it. The February US Jobs Report.
It’s set for release from the Bureau of Labour Statistics at 8.30 am ET on Friday morning (12.30pm AEDT)
And economists think that in February, the labour market kept its momentum intact and had another huge month.
Via Bloomberg, here’s a quick look at what Wall Street is expecting on Friday morning:
- Nonfarm payrolls: +235,000
- Unemployment rate: 5.6%
- Average hourly earnings, month-on-month: +0.2%
- Average hourly earnings, year-on-year: +2.1%
- Average weekly hours worked: 34.6
In January, the economy added 257,000 jobs, the 11th straight month that nonfarm payrolls few by more than 200,000, the longest streak since 1995. The unemployment rate ticked up to 5.7%, though this is still at the lowest level since July 2008 as the labour force participation rate moved up to 62.9% in January from 62.7% in December.
In a note to clients ahead of Friday’s report, David Mericle at Goldman Sachs wrote that the firm expects nonfarm payrolls grew by 220,000 in February, writing, “Labour market indicators were mixed in February, and we expect that the effect of four major snowstorms in the month leading into the February survey week will also weigh on payroll growth.”
Goldman is also looking for a decline in the unemployment rate to 5.6% and its expectations for wage growth are 0.2%.
Diane Swonk at Mesirow Financial expects nonfarm payrolls grew by 210,000 in February, less than the firm initially expected, due to harsh winter weather and work stoppages at West Coast ports.
Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna forecasts a gain of 250,000 for nonfarm payrolls and anticipates the unemployment rate fell to 5.5% in February. LaVorgna notes that the survey week for the February jobs report saw a notably low number of initial jobless claims — 282,000, or 27,000 fewer claims than the reference week for January’s report.
Another reason for LaVorgna’s bullishness is tax receipts.
LaVorgna wrote in a note to clients:
Another reason February payrolls may not show a significant weather impact is the current trend in withheld income tax receipts … Tax receipts are one of our favourite indicators because they are timely and not subject to revision … Tax receipts have been trending steadily higher over the past year. Indeed, the year-over-year growth rate at the end of February was roughly 5.6%, nearly unchanged from January (5.7%). This tells us that the pace of labour market gains should remain steady in February and that a downshift in job growth is highly unlikely.
Brian Jones at Societe Generale is calling for a big number on Friday, projecting that nonfarm payrolls grew by 280,000 in February. Jones wrote in a note ahead of the report that the weather in the first two weeks of the month was actually favourable, and like LaVorgna, noted the low level of jobless claims in the February reference week for the survey.
This is also the last Jobs Report we’ll get before the Federal Reserve’s March 17-18 policy meeting, at which Jones expects the Fed will drop the phrase “patient” when describing how long it will wait to raise interest rates. Jones expects that in June the Fed will raise interest rates for the first time since 2006.
Among other forecasts from economists followed by Business Insider is a call for job gains of 220,000 from Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macroeconomics, gains of 240,000 from Jim O’Sullivan at High Frequency Economics, and gains of 250,000 from Ethan Harris at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Michael Feroli at Morgan Stanley.
We’ll have complete coverage of the numbers in the morning.