Friday, April 01, 2016

United States Jobless Rates Increases for March
Apr 1, 2016, 11:55 AM ET

U.S. businesses added 215,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate ticked up to 5 percent in March from 4.9 percent in February. But there was just one number that mattered most to investors: the labor force participation rate.

This rate shows the labor force as a percent of the population. In other words, it helps economists understand the number of civilians ages 16 and older who are employed or who are actively looking for work. Last month the labor force participation rate was 63 percent, up from 62.4 percent in September. The rate, which is now at its highest level in two years, has slowly increased as more Americans are finding jobs.

A stronger labor market could influence how the Federal Reserve moves on interest rates. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said in a speech on Tuesday that the central bank will move cautiously on raising interest rates this year, in part due to global uncertainty.

A low labor force participation rate could signify to the Fed that there is slack in the workforce, according to Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst with Last month, the Fed said in its economic projections that it may have two rate hikes this year, compared to an original forecast of four at its December 2015 policy-making meeting.

But Hamrick believes a large rise in labor force participation is unlikely in the immediate future, and he remains skeptical that the Fed will raise rates at its April meeting.

"For now, it doesn’t appear that Yellen and most of her [Federal Reserve] colleagues have sufficient confidence to raise rates right away," Hamrick said.

Weekly Jobless Claims Tick Higher Ahead of Key Payrolls Report

By Jon C. Ogg
March 31, 2016 10:20 am EDT

The U.S. Department of Labor issued its last official labor number on Thursday before Friday’s key unemployment and payrolls report. The weekly jobless claims report for the week ending March 26 showed that the seasonally adjusted initial claims was up 11,000 to 276,000. The prior week was unrevised at 265,000.

Bloomberg had called for 266,000 claims, and Dow Jones was calling for 265,000.

As usual, the Labor Department said that no special factors had an impact on this week’s initial claims. The streak grows by another week for another record — this marked 56 consecutive weeks of weekly jobless claims coming in below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average rose 3,500 to 263,250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 259,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.6% for the week ending March 19, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate.

One key measurement that 24/7 Wall St. likes to focus on is the advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment. This is the continuing jobless claims, which is the people who have repeatedly been on unemployment (and it is reported with a one-week lag), and it was down by 7,000 to 2,173,000.

Thursday’s Labor Department report may have been higher than expected, but Wednesday’s ADP number was more or less right in line with the consensus estimates. These should wash each other out and not create many changes to official forecasts for the big payrolls report.

Bloomberg’s consensus economist forecasts for Friday’s numbers covering March are as follows:

Unemployment expected to be flat at 4.9%.
Nonfarm payrolls expected to be 210,000 (versus 242,000 in Feb.).
Private sector payrolls expected to be 200,000 (versus 230,000 in Feb.).
Average hourly earnings expected to be up 0.2% (versus -0.1% in Feb.).
Average workweek expected to be 34.5 hours (versus 34.4 hours in Feb.).

By Jon C. Ogg

Read more: Weekly Jobless Claims Tick Higher Ahead of Key Payrolls Report - 24/7 Wall St.
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