Economists are worrying and the stock market is reacting to fears that tomorrow’s February jobs report may be worse than expected. A report Wednesday from payroll processor ADP that foreshadows the numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said almost 700,000 jobs were lost during the month. A forecast by Dow Jones earlier had predicted the ADP number would be closer to 630,000.
Now, Dow Jones is predicting that the BLS report will show a decline of 652,000 jobs in February.
Worse is the forecast from Wanted Technologies. The company is predicting the report will show 868,000 jobs lost. Wanted’s forecast is based on measuring the changes in jobs posted online to job boards and corporate career sites. The company provides job listing data to The Conference Board.
ADP, on the other hand, uses payroll data from its thousands of clients. The company claims to handle payroll processing for a sixth of all U.S. firms.
Regardless of which estimate is closest, none of them bode well for the stock market or the economy. In January, the BLS said 598,000 jobs were lost. It was the worst jobs report since 1974. February, shorter by three days, is expected to be even worse. Losing even more than January will mean the recession is not abating despite the billions already spent on banking bailouts and the passage of a stimulus bill during the month.
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“Given the usual trailing relationship, I expect several more months comparable to what we saw,” economist Joel Prakken told Forbes.com. He’s chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, which prepares the ADP report. “I don’t think we’ll see some stabilization until later this year.”
The BLS report release is scheduled for 8:30 Eastern time Friday.