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Friday’s Jobs Data Likely To Shift Market Odds For Fed’s Next Interest Rate Decision

Key jobs data is due Friday and recent numbers suggest the labor market may be starting to roll over

Key jobs data is due Friday and recent numbers suggest the labor market may be starting to roll over. Here’s what you need to know ahead of the print.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is set to release the March nonfarm payrolls at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday. The data will measure how many jobs were created in the U.S. last month across a majority of businesses. 

A customer walks by a now hiring sign posted in front of a Ross Dress For Less store on April 07, 2023, in Novato, California. The U.S. labor market added 236,000 jobs in March bringing the national unemployment rate down to 3.5 percent. JUSTIN SULLIVAN/BENZINGA

Economists are anticipating that employers added 239,000 payrolls. The number will follow a hotter-than-expected print in February in which the U.S. added 311,000 jobs, well above average economist estimates of 200,000.

Jobless claims decreased by 18,000 to 228,000 for the week ending April 1 from an upwardly revised level of 246,000, according to data the Labor Department released on Thursday.

“The labor market in March came in like a lion with a banking crisis and more layoffs, and is going out like a lamb with a solid jobs report,” said Daniel Zhao, Glassdoor’s lead economist, in a statement. “The labor market is still strong, but it’s gliding slowly back down to Earth.”

Private payrolls rose by just 145,000 in March, down from 261,000 in February and well below forecasts of 200,000, which suggests the labor market is cooling significantly. 

Projections for the Federal Reserve’s next move have been bouncing around between a pause and another 0.25% rate hike. Following the cooler-than-expected labor data, the market was split approximately 60/40 Thursday in favor of a pause at the Fed’s next meeting, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool

Friday’s jobs number is likely to swing projections one way or the other. Another hot print could lift expectations for a subsequent 0.25% hike, but CNBC’s Jim Cramer said he expects the labor market to have finally cracked, as recent data seems to suggest.

Cramer predicted the number will be the first to really show weakness in the labor market on Thursday’s “Squawk On The Street.”

“I think the help wanted signs are down, and not because they found the people, I think they are afraid to hire,” he said. 

People are underestimating the effects of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, the CNBC host said. 

The Fed has been willing to continue to raise rates, especially considering the continued strength of the labor market, but SVB’s crumbling suggests the Fed might have finally broken something in the banking system in its aggressive fight against inflation. 

Potential contagion in the banks is the primary factor pushing expectations toward a pause, but the labor market appears to be finally cooling off and the Fed also revised its outlook following its most recent decision on rates. 

At the Fed’s last meeting, the committee said it no longer sees “ongoing increases” as appropriate and instead opted to say that some “firming” may be needed. 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell maintained that 2% inflation is still the goal and said the Fed would use all of its tools to do so.

“There are real costs to bringing it down to 2%, but the costs of failing are much higher,” Powell said in a press conference following the Fed’s last 0.25% hike.

If Friday brings another hot jobs number, projections for the Fed’s next move could easily return to looking like a coin flip, which is where the projections were immediately following the Fed’s last meeting. A cooler-than-expected print will likely continue to push projections in favor of a pause. 

Produced in association with Benzinga

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