The first Friday of each month is the most important Friday to the market, because that is the day that the monthly “Jobs Report” is issued. The current forecast is an increase in jobs of about 144,000 and the unemployment rate holding at 9.6%.
Creating that many jobs is certainly much better than losing 700,000 jobs a month, like we were doing just two years ago. We’re going in the right direction but way too slowly.
This morning, we learned that productivity is still growing strongly, at 2.3%, while employment costs were down 0.1%. That means business is still getting more and more work out of the existing workers, who are grateful for the job and not complaining or asking for raises.
As I’ve said many times already, the bottom of this recession is not V-shaped, suggesting a sharp rebound. It is not U-shaped, suggesting we’ll bump along the bottom before enjoying a sharp recovery. It is not W-shaped, suggesting we’ll slip back into recovery. Instead, it is shaped like the Nike Swoosh, suggesting a long, slow recovery.
That also means unemployment will remain high a very long time. While painful, compare our 9.6% with Spain (20.6%), Ireland (14.0%), Greece (12.2%), or Portugal (11.1%). Frankly, that’s a painful comparison, because those nations are teetering on the brink of financial ruin.
Recent forecasts of our Jobs Report have been overly pessimistic. Let’s hope we do better than 144,000 this Friday! Go Team, Go!