The Bureau of Labour Statistics will release the April jobs report on Friday.
Here’s what Wall Street is expecting, via Bloomberg:
- Nonfarm payrolls:+200,000
- Unemployment rate: 4.9%
- Average hourly earnings month-on-month: +0.3%
- Average hourly earnings year-on-year: +2.4%
- Average weekly hours worked: 34.5
The forecast for headline job gains is right where economists obsessed about just a few months ago. Anything below 200,000 was troubling.
“As we approach full employment, the monthly job growth of 200,000 may not be sustained,” Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, told Business Insider.
“But this isn’t a problem.”
To put things in perspective, we haven’t seen negative employment growth for 65 straight months.
And for April, indications of another robust month of job gains can be found in the second-straight rise of the ISM’s non-manufacturing employment index, and the fact that initial jobless claims fell to the lowest level since 1973.
So rather than obsess over the headline, economists have recently turned their attention to other things.
The labour-force participation rate has unexpectedly crept higher since late last year.
It’s been driven by demographics and the availability of jobs.
People born in the 1940s — so-called baby boomers — have hit their prime retirement age.
Additionally, the near-record level of job openings is “pulling back into the labour force some workers who are right on the edge,” said Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain.
But he’s seeing a yellow warning light on the tech sector, which was volatile in April after a slew of weak earnings. Even before that, there had been uncertainty in Silicon Valley that prompted some companies to reconsider their hiring plans.
Economy-wide, discouraged workers would change their minds faster if wages start to grow.
Slow wage growth has been one of the biggest laggards of the labour-market’s recovery, and wage growth is the one thing everyone, from the average consumer to the Federal Reserve, needs right now.
Chamberlain forecasts that average hourly earnings grew 2.6% year-on-year, which is more than the consensus. He said it’s puzzling that wage growth has been so slow, although it has trended upwards since early last year.
Torsten Sløk, Deutsche Bank’s chief international economist, pointed out a calendar quirk that could push the wage-growth data higher for April.
The Bureau of Labour Statistics surveys for the jobs report during the week of the 12th of every month. Payday for is on the 15th for those paid bi-weekly.
So when, like April, the 12th is early in the week and not at the end, more employers are likely to include the bi-weekly pay in the survey.
Calendar effect or not, higher wages are something the Federal Reserve would welcome.
It would give them more confidence in their 2% inflation target, and suggest that consumer spending will continue to drive economic growth.
And for Marc Chandler, this is about the only thing that matters to the Fed right now in the labour market. The strong pace of job gains and the drop in the unemployment rate have not moved the needle on raising interest rates.
“Another 200k increase in nonfarm payrolls is not a game-changer” for the Fed, Chandler wrote in a note. “The issue is not jobs or income; it is consumption and investment.”