Why Friday's Jobs Report Is Huge

It’s a
big weekfor economic data with U.S. ISM manufacturing already
beating expectationstoday and housing and GDP statistics coming later this week. The most important data point, though, comes Friday morning when the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) puts out the November jobs report.

This is one of the most important reports to date due to its implications for Fed policy. The Federal Reserve is considering scaling back – tapering – its $US85 billion in monthly asset purchases, but will only do so if the economy is improving at a moderate pace. More than any other statistic, the jobs report is the best indicator of the health of the labour market.

In September, the Fed surprised the market by not tapering and led Fed watchers to revise their expectations for when the taper could come. Right now, most analysts believe that it will happen in March, but better than expected job growth could push up that forecast.

The October job report beat expectations, adding 204,000 jobs and revised up the August and September numbers by 60,000 as well. This was despite the government shutdown and debt ceiling brinksmanship. With those improvements, lower mortgage rates and the likelihood of a future government shutdown low, the Fed could begin reducing its purchases in December, but a lot depends on Friday’s report.

Analysts expect 180,000 new jobs in November and the unemployment rate to drop back to 7.2%, after it rose last month due to the shutdown. If the data beats expectations, it will increase the odds that the Fed will taper in December. If the number is weak, it will almost surely rule out a December taper and could push it even further into the spring or summer of next year.

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