Payroll Report Preview Conundrum: No Extended Unemployment Beneficiaries in It

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January and February have put the stock market in question for 2014. After three series of major economic releases were handily under expectations in the United States, the issues overseas are mounting. Now all eyes are awaiting the highly anticipated unemployment and payrolls report due this Friday.

What is important to remember is that multiple preview numbers will be seen ahead of the formal Labor Department report. All of those pre-unemployment numbers will set a bias for what is expected on Friday. On top of that, investors will be looking closely for the report a month over revisions to see if the low-low number on non-farm and private sector payrolls was merely under-counted.

So, what doe we expect on the surface? Here are some economic releases with employment data from this week that will signal what to expect.

  • The ISM manufacturing was already released on Monday, showing the employment trends index was 52.3 in January versus 55.8 in December.
  • On Wednesday morning comes ADP Payrolls data. Bloomberg has estimates of 170,000 versus 238,000 from the prior month.
  • Later on Wednesday morning will be the ISM non-manufacturing report, and inside that will be the employment component as well.
  • On Thursday comes the Challenger Job-Cut Report, with no estimates available.
  • Thursday also brings that weekly Jobless Claims, as the last look from the Labor Department – estimates are 337,000 from Bloomberg, versus 348,000 last week.
  • Then there is also the TrimTabs reports, but this uses a subset of data and is often far more conservative than most readings.

The formal Employment Situation from the Labor Department will be released early on Friday morning. The consensus for non-Farm Payrolls is 181,000 from Bloomberg, versus just 74,000 a month ago. The private sector payrolls are expected to grow by 182,000 according to Bloomberg, versus only 87,000 a month ago. Lastly, the formal unemployment rate is expected to be flat at 6.7%.

Where the report will get confusing is that the extended benefits will have come back into play. The benefits were not extended and this could handily throw off the estimates for Friday. These people will no longer appear in the workforce, yet they did not somehow exactly disappear either. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has previously said in January:

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending January 4 was 3,706,087, a decrease of 1,003,734 from the previous week. There were 5,659,482 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2013. … The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program expired on January 1, 2014, and under current law no EUC payments will be made for weeks of unemployment after this date.

24/7 Wall St. would again make the reminder that there are two serious issues for the January unemployment report. First is to watch the revisions for December, because the markets were calling for over 200,000 when the payrolls were initially shown as being well under 100,000. Second is how the extended benefits expiration will play into the size of the workforce.

Then there is a third wildcard as well — weather! It may simply have been too cold for certain employees and benefits seekers to have made it to where they needed to go. Stay tuned.