Key Jobs Data Released Ahead of Unemployment on Friday

This morning brought on several key economic releases ahead of the key Friday jobs number and unemployment data from the Labor Department.

The Challenger Job Cut Report came in at 55,356 for February, versus a prior cut of 40,430. This is not expected to alter the Labor Department report on Friday. The weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department came in at 340,000, versus estimates from Bloomberg of 355,000. As the range of estimates was 335,000 to 362,000, we expect no change on the Friday report for February nonfarm payrolls and unemployment.

Today’s report on international trade, AKA the trade deficit, showed a wider deficit at -$44.4 billion for the month of January, versus a prior report of -$38.1 billion and a Bloomberg consensus of -$43.0 billion. This is not enough of a change to alter many numbers and will not have any impact on Friday’s employment report.

A key report on worker productivity and unit labor costs was released, but investors need to know that this was a report for the fourth quarter of 2012. That gives no bearing on the Friday employment report, as that is a February reading. Nonfarm productivity was down by 1.9%, versus a Bloomberg estimate of -1.6%. Unit labor costs were up by 4.4%, but that was under the 4.6% estimate from Bloomberg.

As a final reminder, the unemployment rate is expected to slip 0.1% to 7.8%. Bloomberg has expectations for nonfarm payrolls gains of 171,000 and private sector payrolls of 195,000 for the month of February. That key data will come at 8:30 a.m. EST on Friday, but we would caution that it is a week later than normal due to a calendar issue from February.