Small Business Hiring Might Dampen BLS Payrolls Report Expectations

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The markets brace for payrolls and unemployment data at the start of each month. Several private releases have been used a historical barometer by economists and traders alike to predict how the U.S. Department of Labor payroll and unemployment report will turn out. The Paychex IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch has been released for June, and the report showed that growth of employment in small businesses slowed as hourly earnings increased.

The report was down 0.24 points to a reading of 100.10, showing that, while still representing growth, this was the fourth consecutive drop in the growth rate for the national jobs index. At the same time, average hourly earnings were up 2.88% ($0.72 per hour) to $25.82 at small businesses in June.

What will stand out here, again even noting that this is still growth, is that the overall index is now at its lowest level since late 2011. IHS Markit suggests that the slower employment growth at small businesses is consistent with tightening labor markets.

Wednesday’s report showed that the South was again the leader in regional job growth, and the West ranked the highest for wage growth. The states of Washington and Arizona had the highest weekly earnings growth at more than 4%. Construction declined by about 1.9% and showed the weakest 12-month growth rate among industries, while “other services” and “leisure and hospitality” had the strongest wage growth in June.

Despite ranking last, the manufacturing sector was the only one to increase the pace of small business job growth during the first half of 2017. Weekly hours worked increased in all industry sectors except in manufacturing, which saw a slight 0.02% decrease.

Paychex specifically addressed that there has been continued uncertainty over the past month related to legislative policies that stand to have an impact on small businesses. The company pointed to the mixed report reflecting an unclear regulatory picture combined with a narrowing labor market.

At the state level, 11 of 20 states now have index levels below 100, with New York falling to last place among states for the second time in 2017.

Thursday will bring additional payrolls reports from the Challenger job-cut report and from the ADP employment report for payrolls. These will act as additional previews for a bias on how the economists will be leaning on Friday’s Labor Department report on payrolls and unemployment. Bloomberg has the Bureau of Labor Statistics data with consensus estimates as follows:

  • Nonfarm payrolls +170,000
  • Private sector payrolls +164,000
  • Unemployment at 4.3%
  • Avg. hourly earnings (monthly) +0.3%
  • Avg. hourly earnings (year-over-year) +2.6%
  • Avg. workweek 34.4 hours