Employers probably added 210,000 jobs last month after increasing
headcount by 192,000 in March, according to a Reuters poll. That
would also top the pace of payrolls gains in the first quarter of
177,667 jobs per month.
The unemployment rate is forecast falling one-tenth of a percentage
point to 6.6 percent in April, matching a five-year low previously
touched in January.
"It will confirm that the economy is gearing up to a higher rate of
growth. It would not be an isolated number, the vast majority of
economic reports for the last several weeks point to an upward shift
in growth," said Anthony Karydakis, chief economic strategist at
Miller Tabak in New York.
The economy stalled in the first quarter, weighed down by an
unusually cold and disruptive winter. A slow pace of stock
accumulation by businesses, while they work through a glut of goods
amassed in the second half of 2013, also undercut growth.
But upbeat data such as consumer spending and industrial production
suggest the first quarter's 0.1 percent annual pace was an
aberration and is not a reflection of the economy's otherwise sound
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday shrugged off the dismal
performance. The U.S. central bank, which announced further
reductions to the amount of money it is pumping into the economy
through monthly bond purchases, said indications were that "growth
in economic activity has picked up recently."
Economists expect second-quarter growth to top a 3 percent pace. The
Labor Department will release its monthly jobs report, which is
closely watched by financial markets around the globe, on Friday at
HOUSEHOLD SURVEY A WILD CARD
While details of the bigger survey of employers are likely to be
upbeat, the smaller and volatile household survey from which the
unemployment rate is calculated is a wild card.
Household employment grew robustly in the first quarter and
economists expect some moderation in April. The labor force, which
also grew during the same period, could decline a bit.
The labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age
Americans who are employed and unemployed but looking for a job, has
been rising. This comes as improving job prospects encouraged some
job seekers who had given up the hunt to resume looking for work.
Economists expect some of the 1.35 million people who lost their
longer-term unemployment benefits at the end of last December to
drop out of the labor force at some point.
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"There's still a risk that the participation rate could be pushed
down by some portion of the people who lost benefits at the
beginning of the year dropping out of the labor force," said Ted
Wieseman an economist at Morgan Stanley in New York.
The participation rate, which remains near its lowest levels since
the late 1970s, and the persistently high number of Americans out of
work for long spells could keep the Fed from lifting interest rates
for some time to come.
All the anticipated payrolls gains in April are expected to come
from the private sector, which in March had regained all the jobs
lost during the 2007-09 recession.
Overall employment remains 422,000 jobs shy of its peak level in
December 2007, a deficit that could be cut in half if Friday's
figure comes in on target.
Outside of government payrolls, which are forecast to have been flat
for a second straight month, job gains in April are likely to have
been as broad-based as they were in March.
Manufacturing employment likely rebounded after dipping in March.
Another month of solid gains in construction payrolls is expected,
but the hiring trend could slow in the months ahead as residential
construction loses some steam.
Average hourly earnings probably rose 0.2 percent in April after
being flat the prior month. The length of the workweek likely held
steady at 34.5 hours in April after bouncing back in March from its
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; editing by Andrew Hay)
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