The September jobs report, delayed for weeks because of the government shutdown, is not at all what anyone expected. Not only did the headline number of 148,000 jobs fall far short of expectations but a lot of the underlying numbers just don't quite add up.
2013 jobs report
- Beware the Strange Data in the September Jobs Report
- 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.