jobs report schedule
Friday's jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a mixed bag.
The report had some positive news, as the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%, the lowest rate since December 2008.
While the preliminary numbers for February show that 236,000 new jobs were created, exceeding analyst estimates by a wide margin, the figure for January was revised down from 157,000 to 119,000. However, the December number was revised up from 196,000 to 219,000. So for the three months of December 2012-February 2013, the economy has added a total of 574,000 jobs, well above expectations.
But despite the increase in the number of jobs, the main reason for the decline in the unemployment rate is that fewer people are participating in the labor market.
The participation rate fell by 0.1 percentage points to 63.5% in February as 130,000 people dropped out of the labor force. The employment-population ratio remained flat at 58.6%.
Why the January 2013 U.S. Jobs Report May Surprise You
The U.S. employment picture is expected to show continued signs of improvement when the Labor Department releases January's U.S. jobs report Friday morning.
Projections are for nonfarm payrolls to have gained 168,000 employees during the first month of 2013.
While a decent number, the tally won't be enough to budge the nation's 7.8% unemployment rate.
Forecasts from 90 economists polled by Thomson Reuters range from a 75,000 gain on the low end to a 200,000 gain.
In December, the number was a surprisingly robust 155,000. Over the past two years, the average has been 153,000 per month.
"We started the year on a pretty solid footing. I think the report is going to be a little bit better than what most people think," Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG Investment Research, told the International Business Times.
But a number of factors could skew data in the U.S. jobs report. Here's what you should watch for.
April's U.S. Jobs Report a Far Cry from Where We Need to Be