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By Jason Stipp | 03-31-2010 12:35 PM

Will the Jobs Report Live Up to Expectations?

Our forecast for Friday's report, plus looking beyond the Census.

Securities mentioned in this video
PAYX Paychex Inc

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar. The market might be closed on Friday, but the government is releasing its employment report for March. For the first time in quite a while, there seems to be a little bit of a head of steam on optimism for this particular report.

Here with me to dig into that and to offer their own forecast is Morningstar's Bob Johnson. He's associate director of economic analysis. And Vishnu Lekraj, he's an equity analyst covering the employment sector. Thanks for being here, guys.

Vishnu Lekraj: Thank you.

Bob Johnson: Good to be here.

Stipp: So last time around in February we lost 36,000 jobs. Looking at some of the consensus numbers for March, it's around plus-200,000. Some were even higher than that. It seems like there is some optimism building behind this report. What's behind that?

Johnson: Sure. I think that there's a few things that are making people feel optimistic. First, the consumer spending numbers have all been quite good over the past several months, and that usually drives employment a little bit higher. We'll get the natural economy picking up a little bit, and I think that's helping people's optimism.

I think a lot of people think they know something. The weather was much better in March than February, and everybody said the snowstorm. So people are adding a lot of jobs back in just as kind of a bounce, if you will, from February.

Then on top of that, there's some numbers where the Census people are doing hiring. All of the forms you got in the mail and hopefully mailed back in, they're going to have to hire the people to count those, and to go door-to-door for the people that didn't send them in. Those people are beginning to be hired, and that's going to influence the numbers, so that's how they got so high.

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