Friday’s report from the U.S. Department of Labor likely either will shock or enthrall the stock and bond market. After all, we have a tentative Syrian military strike to contend with right as Europe is getting back on its feet and as the U.S. recovery gets to deal with a coming end or tapering of the quantitative easing. The Labor Department released its weekly jobless claims at 323,000 in the past week, versus a consensus estimate of 330,000 from Bloomberg. The prior week’s report was revised to 332,000 from 331,000.
Two other components were seen as well. The four-week average was down by 3,000 to 328,500. What we call the army of the unemployed, the continuing jobless claims (with a one week lag), fell by some 43,000 down to 2,951,000.
There are two other key employment reports we also have to pay attention to during the first week of each month. The ADP payrolls report showed that the economy added some 176,000 jobs during August. ADP’s report tends to be volatile, but this basically matched the Bloomberg consensus of 177,000 jobs. TrimTabs has a much more broad measurement pool, and it claims that the U.S. economy added a mere 79,000 jobs in the month of August.
All of this sounds pretty much in line with expectations on the surface. The problem is that unemployment is down to 7.4% and some market observers still question how accurate the counting is on the total workforce and how to include those who have dropped out of the workforce but are still able-bodied workers who could return one day.
Bloomberg is calling for unemployment to be static at 7.4% and for nonfarm payrolls to be 175,000. Its estimate for private sector payrolls is 178,000. Our take is that the talking heads will be screaming bloody murder if the payrolls report is much higher or much lower, since the precursor reports are signaling that estimates should seem relatively accurate for August’s employment situation.