No Good News, But No Bad Either Expected From Friday’s Jobs Report

Aug 2, 2012
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Labor economists are expecting what passes for good job news these days when the U.S. government reports its July employment numbers tomorrow.

A MarketWatch survey puts the average of what economists estimate at 100,000 new jobs added in July. Bloomberg puts the number at 110,000. Dow Jones is at 95,000. All the surveys agree that the unemployment rate will remain at 8.2 percent.

There are also expectations that the U.S. Department of Labor will up its count of June’s new jobs, which it initially put at 80,000. Economists drew encouragement from Wednesday’s National Employment Report from ADP  and its partner, Macroeconomic Advisers. The report estimated that 163,000 seasonally adjusted, non-farm, private sector jobs were added in July. June’s original count of 176,000 new jobs was adjusted down to 172,000.

Although the ADP report almost never syncs with the monthly report from the Department of Labor, it does point the direction and is used by economists — and Wall Street — as a sort of early indicator of what’s to come. As Reuters points out, ADP has been averaging about 50,000 jobs more than the government. If that holds true for July, then the 100,000 estimate may prove accurate.

(Some analysts suspect the ADP report may be more accurate than the government’s, because the company uses numbers from the hundreds of thousands of payrolls it processes. The Labor Department surveys employers to develop its numbers.)

In the last few days, economic reports, consumer confidence, job listings, and other data offer no reason to think Friday’s jobs report will be a surprise. This morning, Monster’s chairman and CEO, Sal Iannuzzi, said the company has seen a general slowdown in new deals in the U.S. and a decline elsewhere in the world. Though some of that is loss of share to competitors (LinkedIn reported record revenues and profits this afternoon), another part is due to lackluster hiring.

The Conference Board this week reported a 153,600 drop in the number of jobs advertised online in July, after a big rise in June. Job posting increases now average 67,000 monthly since the beginning of the year.

”Over the last three years labor demand continued to move forward, albeit slowly, making this a very slow-growth recovery and an indication of the lingering economic uncertainty of employers,” said June Shelp, vice president at The Conference Board.

Factory orders, meanwhile, slowed in June, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The 0.5 percent decline was the third in four months.

A more positive indicator is that initial claims for unemployment last week didn’t rise as much as forecast. Because of planned, annual shutdowns for retooling by automotive manufacturers, July typically sees a big rise in unemployment claims. While claims did rise, they weren’t as large as usual; that’s partially because the auto industry as a whole is smaller and also because there were fewer plants furloughed.

“It is still a difficult job market,” senior economist Ryan Sweet at Moody’s Analytics told Bloomberg News. “Companies are not panicking by cutting workers. They are going to wait out the uncertainty related to Europe and the U.S. fiscal cliff.”

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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