Rebound Expected in Jobs Report
Stock market in the U.S. continued to grind higher today, although I still believe that this is a bear market rally. The Dow added a little better than 40 points; the NASDAQ up about 47, so a bigger percentage gain there. The S&P was up about 13 points. This was following the release of the March Nonfarm Payrolls numbers – aka the Jobs Report. There was a lot of hope that we would see a rebound in the month of March. Remember, in February, they initially reported just 20,000 jobs created, which was well short of what had been expected. It was probably something close to 200,o00 jobs. And the consensus for March was for 170,000 jobs and we actually got 196,000 jobs.
Pretty Weak Number
That’s the first look. So that is, what, 26,000 jobs better than had been expected. The February number was revised upward, but just to 33,000, and I think I remember when this number first came out, that there were a lot of naysayers who were saying, “This is crazy, there is no way this is true, let’s wait for the revisions”. Well, we’ve got a revision, and all we did is revise it up to 33,000. So it seems like the number was legitimate. We did have a rebound in the month of March, but 170,000 is not a lot of jobs, considering how few jobs were created in February. In fact, if you average the two months, it’s a pretty weak number.
Weakness in Labor Force Participation Rate
The official unemployment rate, that held steady at 3.8%, but the labor force participation rate, which I know a lot of people have been encouraged by, because they see that number notching higher, it dropped back down .o2, from 63.2% to 63%. So that’s some weakness there. Also, if you look at the manufacturing jobs, they were looking for a gain of 10,000 jobs. Instead, we got a loss of 6,000 jobs. They took the February gain, which was originally reported at 4,000, and we only gained 1,000. So the markets were looking for an improvement over the original estimate for February; instead, not only did we take February’s number down, but instead of improving, we actually went in the other direction and lost manufacturing jobs.
Average Hourly Earnings Posts Sharp Slowdown
If you look at the average hourly earnings, they were looking for a gain of +.2 and we got half that of +.1, and that is a sharp slowdown from the gain the prior month, which was +.4, which was better than had been estimated at the time. So now you average them out, and, again, we’re not getting much in the way of earnings growth, although we are seeing a rise in the cost of living.
Average Work Week Up
The average work week was up; it ticked up from 34.4 hours to 34.5 hours. Nonetheless, most of the coverage of the jobs numbers was that is was a good report. It was better than estimates, because they were looking for 170-whatever and they got 190-something, so it was better than estimates.