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May 07, 2004

Ace of Spades HQ Incites National Fixation on April Jobs Numbers

"Thanks to AoSHQ, everyone's suddenly treating us like rock stars," says senior CreditSuisse economist

Anxious Public Demands "More Cowbell!"

How much can we tease something so boring?:

[L]ast week's jobless claims won't impact the April employment report, which covers the last half of March and the first half of April. And economists are widely split on the key number in the report -- the number of new jobs added by employers. Reuters found a range of estimates from 60,000 to 250,00 new jobs among economists surveyed.

The unemployment rate is expected to stay unchanged at 5.7 percent, with a much tighter range of estimates -- the economists surveyed came in with either a 5.6 percent or 5.7 percent rate.

What they're looking for is a sign of whether the strong March employment report -- when 308,000 jobs were added -- was the start of something big or just a big tease.

Wachovia Securities economist Mark Vitner is in the start-of-something big camp. He believes we could see more than 280,000 jobs added virtually every month through the rest of this decade. He's forecasting an April report with 240,000 jobs added, and a significantly bigger number in the May or June report.

"The jobless recovery is well behind us," said Vitner. "The economy right now is not really in a recovery mode, it's in a boom mode. Companies are going to be hiring out of fear if they don't, they lose an opportunity to make more money."

Vitner said the relatively low number of jobless claims is one of the things giving him confidence that the employment picture is seeing significant, permanent improvement.

Other economists, most likely malcontents and subversives, expect much smaller jobs-growth, figuring March's number was an aberration.

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posted by Ace at 01:04 AM

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