Thursday, March 29, 2018

Merrill and Nomura Forecasts for March Employment Report

by Bill McBride on 3/29/2018 04:06:00 PM

Here are some excepts from two research reports ... first from Merrill Lynch:

We expect nonfarm payrolls to increase by 195k and private payrolls to increase by 200k in March ...

We expect to see employment activity return back closer to trend after last month’s unexpected gain of 313k which was likely boosted by warmer weather conditions. As such, we could see some softening in goods-producing jobs, such as construction, which were particularly strong in February. Elsewhere, we expect negative payback in government payrolls in March after an outsized gain in February due to strong hiring activity in local government education payrolls. Therefore, we expect the gains in private payrolls to outpace the gains in nonfarm payrolls.

We look for the unemployment rate ... to remain unchanged at 4.1%, which would mark the sixth consecutive month at that level. ...

... note that while the inclement weather likely reduced hours worked in March, it’s unlikely to impact payrolls growth noticeably as the BLS counts the number workers on payroll during the pay period capturing the 12th of the month. The decline in hours worked should result in an upward bias to wage growth, leading us to forecast average hourly earnings to increase by 0.3% mom, pushing up the yoy comparison to 2.8% from 2.6%.
From Nomura:
We expect nonfarm payroll employment in March to increase by 115k, a below-trend reading primarily due to negative payback from February’s weather-related boost. ... According to the San Francisco Fed’s weather payroll model, warmer weather biased up February payroll employment by roughly 90k, largely accounting for the above-consensus print of 313k in February. ...

We forecast a 0.2% m-o-m increase in average hourly earnings (AHE), corresponding to 2.7% on a 12-month basis. ... Finally, we expect the unemployment rate to decline 0.1pp to 4.0% ... However, there is some risk that the unemployment rate declines below 4.0% given an unusual increase in labor force inflows in February
I'll write an employment report preview next week after more data for March is released.