Moody’s economist Mark Zandi has a fairly solid/negative take on the state of the labour market.
I expect payroll employment increased by 175K in March, and unemployment to tick higher to 7.8 per cent. Hours worked should remain unchanged. The March job gain is consistent with growth experienced over the past year. … “Job gains were a bit stronger late last year and early this due to outsized gains in construction due to Sandy rebuilding and a statistical boost from seasonal adjustment. Job growth will throttle back by the summer as the ill effects of the sequester become evident. This will also show up as lower hours worked given the furloughs related to the sequester. … I don’t expect much improvement in unemployment this year.”
Meanwhile, some analysts say that the “whisper number” (where people really think the report will come in) could be closer to 150K.