The final jobs report of 2016 and of Barack Obama’s presidency is upon us.
Via Bloomberg, here’s what Wall Street is expecting when the Bureau of Labour Statistics releases its report at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday:
- Nonfarm payrolls: +170,000 (+178,000 prior)
- Unemployment rate: 4.7% (4.6% prior)
- Average hourly earnings month-on-month: +0.3%
- Average hourly earnings year-on-year: +2.8%
- Average weekly hours worked: 34.4
- Change in manufacturing payrolls: 0
The change in employment growth would reflect another slowdown in the trend, but extend the longest streak of job creation since the Bureau of Labour Statistics started reporting employment figures. This record was one of the first things Obama touted in an exit memo to Americans published Thursday.
But as joblessness fell, the rate of job growth turned out slower than under two former presidents who also oversaw periods of economic expansion: Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.
Consumers expect the job-creation streak to continue into the new year. The Conference Board’s six-months-out employment expectations index jumped after the election. Several other surveys of consumer confidence also rose. The labour market’s tightness could add on higher wages if employers increase pay while they struggle to find qualified workers, especially in high-paying industries.
Economists will be watching employment in the retail sector, following indications that holiday hiring among brick-and-mortar stores was weak.
Last month, retail-industry hiring fell for the first November in six years, partly reflecting the pressures it faced from the rise of online shopping.
In a note Thursday, Neil Dutta, head of US economics at Renaissance Macro, pointed out that the retail industry accounted for just 41.4% of hiring announcements from September through December, the lowest share since 2009.
And on Wednesday, Macy’s and Kohl’s raised more worrying signs when they lowered their guidance for the year, citing weak holiday sales. Macy’s announced 68 store closures, which would affect nearly 4,000 of its employees.
In contrast, the manufacturing sector is looking up. Surveys of purchasing managers that were conducted in December showed that hiring was solid. The Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing employment index rose in December to its strongest level since June 2015 in December.
Manufacturing payrolls are expected to hold steady from November. Even at that level, they would be down year-over-year for a 10th straight month, indicating room for progress as a rising dollar threatens another slowdown.
Although the services index slowed from November, “on balance, the ISM surveys suggests solid hiring momentum remains firmly in place as 2016 ended and as 2017 begins,” said Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo, in a note Thursday.