No Surprises Expected in Government Jobs Report Friday

Oct 31, 2012
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Hurricane Sandy, which lashed the mid-Atlantic states this week, won’t delay the U.S. Department of Labor from releasing its October jobs and employment numbers. The agency said its monthly report will be out as scheduled Friday morning.

The October report has special significance as it’s the last one before the Presidential election Tuesday. How much the report will influence voters is up for debate, especially since economists aren’t expecting any surprises.

A Bloomberg survey of economists puts the average of their payroll growth estimates at 125,000 and unemployment up slightly from 7.8 to 7.9 percent. A Dow Jones Newswires survey puts job growth at 120,000, with no change in the unemployment rate. TrimTabs, an investment research firm, puts the number at 140,000 new jobs.

Tomorrow, ADP will release its own job growth estimate. The numbers rarely agree with what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the following day, however there has been considerable discussion over the years as to which set of data is the more accurate. Wall Street watches both sets closely, seeing the ADP report as a portent of the official report.

The October ADP report will be even more closely watched as the payroll processor has brought on a new analytics partner and made significant changes to how it reaches its jobs numbers. In addition to adding more business and employee payroll records to its calculation, ADP and its new partner, Moody’s Analytics, will incorporate data from other sources, including the Federal Reserve, and will broaden the number of industries and the size of employers about which it offers numbers.

Other indicators suggest not much change in the employment picture in October. The Conference Board said today that its count of online job postings was down about 78,000 during the month. The numbers have been seesawing for several months, leading the Conference Board’s VP, June Shelp, to describe labor demand as “basically flat.”

Some states, she noted, have done better than others. Idaho and Michigan have each had a 10 percent increase in advertised jobs since May.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, normally released by now, won’t be out until tomorrow due to the hurricane. However, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment increased by just over 4 points in October to 82.6, the highest reading since September 2007. The report says:

Consumers were more optimistic in the most recent survey about prospects for their own personal finances, anticipated continued improvement in the national economy, and expected the unemployment rate to decline significantly during the year ahead.  Overall, consumers were more confident about economic prospects in October than any other time during the past five years.

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