All eyes are on next week’s jobs report for the month of August, as investors look for clues as to when the Federal Reserve will taper its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program ahead of the central bank’s upcoming September 17-18 meeting.
The U.S. Department of Labor issues its August employment report next Friday and Wall Street expects nonfarm payrolls to increase 173,000 in for the month, slightly up from the 162,000 added in July, according to economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires. The unemployment rate is expected to remain the same at 7.4 percent reported in July.
On Friday, Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital, spoke with the International Business Times from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on how the August employment report will impact the Fed’s decision on when it will scale back its asset-purchase program.
“We’re probably looking nonfarm payrolls up by about 166,000 with the unemployment rate probably staying unchanged at 7.4 percent, but I think the quality of jobs is very important to look at,” said Cardillo.
Cardillo pointed to why the quality of jobs reported in July was disappointing. Out of the 162,000 jobs that were added for the month, 65 percent of the positions were part-time work.
“If you look back over the past several quarters and several months, you’ll see that most of the jobs that were created were temporary workers," he said. "Now with the summer coming to an end, we’ll probably see a decline in jobs creations in the next month; but never the less, I think the real focus here, again, is the quality of jobs. The hiring has been mostly in low paying jobs.”
Another troubling sign is the labor-force participation rate, which measures the percentage of working-age Americans who are working or looking for work. The participation rate for the month of July fell to 63.4 percent, over a 30-year low.
“I think if you knock out three tenths of a percent the rate has actually come down from that was mostly due to people just giving up. That means we really haven’t had much of a decline in total unemployment,” said Cardillo.
Also looming over the Federal Reserve’s decision to taper its quantitative easing program is the possibility of U.S. military strikes in Syria, along with another fiscal cliff dilemma.
“I think both of them will have an impact. Syria probably is going to hold them back,” said Cardillo. “I think the Fed is going to think twice.”
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke announced in May the central bank may consider tapering its bond-buying program if the employment outlook improved substantially, and added the central bank is ready to continue or shrink stimulus based on U.S. economic data.
As the Federal Open Market Committee prepares to hold its next policy meeting in September to decide whether to slow the pace of its bond-purchase program, economists question if the Fed will actually taper in September after recent mixed economic data.
“The real issue here is that the economic data remains moderate at best,” said Cardillo.
The Labor Department is scheduled to release its August employment report at 8:30 a.m. Eastern on Friday, September 6. Also on the economic calendar next week is the ISM Manufacturing index on Tuesday, motor vehicle sales on Wednesday and the ADP employment report issued on Thursday.