We’re about to get the first ‘clean’ jobs report in a few months — here’s what Wall Street is looking for

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Reuters/Robert Galbraith

  • The November jobs report will be released on Friday.
  • After hurricanes slowed down job creation in the fall, this should be the first reading on the labor market without weather-related distortions.
  • The Federal Reserve is set to raise interest rates again next week, and will likely cite a strong labor market as one of its reasons.

The final US jobs report released in 2017 is due on Friday, and it will be revealing.

This fall, the hurricanes that hit the Southeastern US kept many Americans away from their jobs and off their employers’ payrolls. This led to a very weak month of job creation in September, with just 18,000 nonfarm payrolls added.

But this was followed by an impressive October as people returned to work. And so, the past two months have not provided a clear reading on how the job market is doing.

“Following hurricane-distorted activity over the prior two months, November’s employment report performance should be a ‘clean’ read on the health of the US labor market as the year comes to a close,” said Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo, in a note.

Here’s what economists forecast will be in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report, via Bloomberg:

  • Nonfarm payrolls: +195,000 (261,000 prior)
  • Unemployment rate: 4.1% (4.1% prior)
  • Average hourly earnings month-on-month: +0.3%
  • Average hourly earnings year-on-year: +2.7% (2.5% prior)
  • Average weekly hours worked: 34.4

Nearly 200,000 net new jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years would make for a strongly headlined report. Additionally, sectors that weren’t affected by the hurricanes have held up in recent months:

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Deutsche Bank

In a note, Nomura’s Lewis Alexander points out that the manufacturing sector has recently made above-average contributions to economic growth, and could have gained up to 20,000 payrolls in November.

Exports, equipment, structures, and inventory investment have contributed an average of 1.3 percentage points to gross domestic product-growth over the past two quarters. That’s an improvement from the average drag of -0.22 percentage points during the previous nine quarters, as the sector faced lower overseas demand due to a stronger dollar, Alexander said.

The Commerce Department said last week that the economy grew faster than initially reported in the third quarter, at a 3.3% annualized rate. It was the fastest pace in three years, and bodes well for the jobs market.

Next Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is most likely to raise its benchmark interest rate again and cite a strengthening labor market as one of the reasons why.

“Looking ahead, it’s going to be interesting to see whether the Fed starts to get worried about further falls in unemployment,” said Luke Bartholomew, an investment strategist at Aberdeen Standard Investments, in a note.

“Falling unemployment is generally thought of as a universally good thing. But good news could become bad news if it looks like unemployment has dropped so far as to signal an economy overheating. This would force the Fed onto the back foot and possibly into a more aggressive set of rate hikes.”

Slow wage growth, however, may continue to give the Fed reason to raise rates slowly. One bright spot in wages is the fact that low-income earners have experienced faster growth this year than people with high-paying jobs.

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Deutsche Bank