US Nonfarm Payrolls Bank Preview: Labor market still going strong

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release the March jobs report on Friday, April 7 at 12:30 GMT and as we get closer to the release time, here are the forecasts by the economists and researchers of 11 major banks regarding the upcoming employment data.

Nonfarm Payrolls in the US are forecast to rise by 240K following the 311K increase recorded in February, with the unemployment rate seen steady at 3.6% and average hourly earnings declining to 4.3% year-on-year vs. 4.6% in February.

Nonfarm Payrolls FAQs

Commerzbank

“At 240K, we expect a smaller increase in payrolls in March than in January (+504K) and February (+311K). However, the figures for the first two months were probably somewhat inflated by the unusually mild weather, and mid-March was rather too cold. If our forecast materialized, the number of new jobs created would continue to exceed the monthly average increase in new workers of an estimated maximum of 100K, which is fed by population growth. The labor market would thus remain tight, and the unemployment rate would probably remain at a very low 3.6%.”

ING

“While we remain nervous about the outlook for jobs given the rise in job lay-off announcements and the inevitable tightening of lending conditions resulting from banking stresses that will be a major headwind for struggling businesses, this will take time to be reflected in payroll numbers. Anything over 200K in terms of March payroll growth will likely boost expectations for a 25 bps rate hike.”

Danske Bank

“We think employment growth remained upbeat in March, and look for 250K NFP gain.”

NBF

“We expect payroll growth to have decelerated to 190K, which would remain very solid given the increasingly limited number of people remaining on the sidelines. The household survey is expected to show a similar gain, something which would leave the unemployment rate unchanged at 3.6%, assuming the participation rate stayed put at 62.5%.”

SocGen

“Our NFP projections are for a moderation. Our forecast absolute gain of 215K in March is still strong, but if realised, would be the softest since December 2021. We view monthly gains in excess of 150-175K as strong since over time, such a pace would further reduce the unemployment rate. With the unemployment rate at 3.6%, labour markets are tight. Wages are likely to grow by 0.3% mom in March, similar to the previous reading. This would mark a deceleration in wage growth. Average hourly earnings are not the best measure for compensation pressures, but the data is monthly and earlier than other data, so it is closely watched. A softening in wages may reflect management strategies to resist demands. If employers see labour requirements as being met and fear a potential layoff round in coming quarters, their willingness to boost wages to retain and attract workers diminishes.”

Deutsche Bank

“We expect nonfarm payrolls to gain +250K and both the unemployment rate and hourly earnings growth to remain unchanged (3.6% and +0.2%, respectively).”

CIBC

“Jobless claims remained low in the March payroll survey reference period, signaling a healthy 220K pace of hiring. Although our forecast of 0.3% growth in average hourly earnings doesn’t preclude reaching ontarget inflation, a 220K pace of hiring is roughly double what Powell has suggested is consistent with sustainable on-target inflation, and we, therefore, continue to expect a final 25 bps rate hike ahead, assuming no proliferation of banking sector issues. With private measures of job openings easing, and previously announced layoffs still coming to fruition, we expect to see a further cooling in the pace of hiring ahead, in combination with a deterioration in cyclical sectors, which will likely leave the Fed on pause after the May FOMC. We’re a little below the consensus on payrolls, but likely not by enough to put downwards pressure on bond yields, as the fading of banking sector concerns is an overriding factor.”

BMO

“US payrolls will be released on Good Friday this year (thus producing the rare case of Canadian jobs arriving earlier). We expect it will be worth the wait, with a solid gain of around 240K likely on tap, lifting the tally for all of Q1 to above 1 million net new jobs – making a mockery of recession talk, at least at the start of the year.”

Citi

“We expect monthly payroll growth to continue to slow in March, but to a still strong pace of 250K jobs added, although with slight downside risks due to some more signs of job losses in rate-sensitive sectors. We also expect a 0.3% MoM increase in average hourly earnings in March with roughly balanced risks of a larger or smaller increase. On the one hand, tightness in the US labor market should continue to put upward pressure on wages and expect that underlying wage growth is running at least 4-6% annualized. On the other, changes in the sector composition of payroll employment in recent months have likely put downward pressure on average hourly earnings and could continue to do so in March. And after rising somewhat unexpectedly to 3.6% in February, we expect the unemployment rate to decline to 3.5% in March. This is based on a similar expectation for employment growth in the household survey that determines the unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate remaining unchanged after a few months of recent increases.”

Wells Fargo

“We look for job growth to slow to 240K in March. The still-tight state of the labor market is likely to be reflected by the unemployment rate ticking back down to 3.5% and March’s rise in average hourly earnings edging up to 0.3%.”

TDS

“We expect the March jobs report to show that payrolls grew with 270K and while this is a slight slowdown from stronger prints in Jan-Feb, it still suggests an above-trend pace of job growth in March. The unemployment rate is projected to stay unchanged at 3.6%. Finally, wage growth will probably print a firm 0.3% MoM.”

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