Unemployment Preview: How ADP, Challenger, and Others May Change Unemployment Expectations


This is an unusual month because, due to a strange calendar in February, the monthly employment situation report by the U.S. Labor Department did not come on the first Friday of the month. This Friday will mark the key Unemployment Report from the Labor Department and we have many economic releases which will act as telegraphs ahead of that formal release. We have the formal estimates for the Employment Situation at the end because there are so many economic releases which investors and traders use as a harbinger for each month's report.

Today's ISM report for the non-Manufacturing segment rose to the highest reading in a year to 56.0, but the employment component was fell marginally to 57.2 in February from 57.5 in January.

On Wednesday morning around 8:15 AM we will get to see the ADP Employment Report for February. The consensus is 173,000 in new private sector payrolls versus 192,000 in January. The ADP national employment report comes from a subset of ADP records from about 400,000 domestic businesses which employ about 24 million workers in a ll private industrial sectors.

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday we will get the Federal Reserve's Beige Book that was made in the two weeks ahead of the last FOMC meeting. This is older data, so do not expect it to change the unemployment and payrolls data.

On Thursday at about 7:30 AM comes the Challenger Job-Cut Report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. which is based upon corporate layoffs based on mass layoff data from state departments of labor. As a reminder, this is more volatile and does not account for changes inside employers.

The weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department will come out on Thursday at 8:30 AM. Bloomberg is calling for a reading of 355,000 versus 344,000 from last week's preliminary figure. We would note that the numbers have been coming sometimes way off the estimates and the trend has been lower of late.

Non-Farm Productivity and Unit Labor Costs will come out on Thursday at 8:30 as well, but we would caution that this is a measurement for the fourth quarter of 2012. That means it has no influence other than productivity. The more productivity that gets milked out of the same number of workers ultimately means that businesses can hire fewer new workers because they can get more output from the same workers for virtually the same price minus the investment costs.The prior productivity report showed a drop of 2% and Bloomberg is looking for this to be a drop of -1.6%.

The formal Employment Situation from the Labor Department for the month of February will be released at 8:30 AM on Friday. Perhaps the biggest caveat for investors is that the consensus can change or the unofficial whisper numbers can change based on the other numbers coming out ahead of the number. Bloomberg has the following estimates for February:

  • 171,000 non-farm payrolls, versus 157,000 originally reported in January;

  • 195,000 private sector payrolls, versus 166,000 originally reported in January;

  • 7.8% unemployment rate, down from the 7.9% preliminary report from January;

  • Average Hourly Earnings static at +0.2%;

  • and Average work week static at 34.4 hours.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Compensation, Economy, Labor, Labor & Unions Tagged: featured