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Strong Data Hides Weakness

David Becker
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www.iforex.com

On Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that non-farm payrolls increased by 175,000 jobs in February compared to the 139,000 expected by economists. Expectations were reduced during the week from 152,000 after ADP reported a weaker than expected report and the ISM announced that their non-manufacturing employment sub-component drop 9 points to contraction territory during February.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 6.7% in February from 6.6% in January. The labor force participation rate held steady at 63% in February. Economists surveyed had forecast that the unemployment rate would fall to 6.5%. The weakness in the report came in the reduction in the average work week. It slipped to 34.2 hours, from 34.3 hours in January, but was revised down from 34.4. This is worth several hundred thousand full time jobs.

The weakness in the report was the drop in the average work week. It slipped to 34.2 hours, from 34.3 hours in January, but was revised down from 34.4. This is worth several hundred thousand full time jobs, and likely due to the inclement weather. Those involuntarily working part-time actually fell by 71,000.

Stocks brushed off the parts of the report that were weaker than expected and instead focused on the headline number. For bulls, this is positive as there will not be a revision for a month, and bears will have to live with the perceived notion that the economy could be on the right track.

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