The February jobs report is expected to show job growth slowing from early 2023, while the US labor market remains strong in the face of persistently high inflation.
Economists expect nonfarm payrolls to increase by 225,000 last month and the unemployment rate to stabilize at 3.4%, according to Bloomberg data. The BLS will release updated hiring numbers at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Here are the key numbers investors will be looking for in Friday’s report, compared to January figures, according to Bloomberg data:
Salaries in the non-farm sector: +225,000 vs. +517,000
Unemployment rate: 3.4% vs 3.4%
Average hourly wage, m/m: +0.3% vs. +0.3%
Average hourly wage, YoY: +4.7% vs. +4.4%
Labor force participation rate: 62.4% vs 62.4%
Average weekly working hours: 34.6 vs 34.7
Investors followed a revision to January data released Friday morning as investors saw an unexpectedly strong 517,000 jobs created earlier in the year as a potential result of seasonal adjustment factors or favorable weather. I will be especially careful.
Capital Economics’ U.S. chief economist Paul Ashworth said in a note to clients earlier this month, “Given the potential impact of weather and seasonality in January, this time around has been largely on the downside, but last month’s Another shock is likely,” he wrote. Ashworth expects February job gains to be just below consensus expectations at his 200,000.
Friday’s report came out less than two weeks before the Federal Reserve’s next policy meeting and markets now expect the central bank to raise interest rates more aggressively by 0.50%.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell told Congress this week that the final interest rate level is likely to be higher than previously expected.
CME Group data shows the market is pricing in 60% of the 0.50% rate hike on March 22nd. A forecasted employment report could confirm that more positive move later this month.
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