Nonfarm Payrolls data was released this morning. The number came in at 559k vs. an expected 650k. While that is a bit underwhelming, it is much improved from last month’s reading of 266k. It should be noted that we also saw a revision higher in last month’s number of a whopping 12k jobs. The unemployment rate did tick down a bit to 5.8%. Markets seem to be taking the reading well as it likely buys Powell some time in regards to having more serious conversations about the tapering timeline. He has stressed in the past that he’ll begin to consider trimming the $120B in asset purchases the Fed is currently making each month when and if we reach full employment and we reach the Fed’s goal of 2% inflation.
Labor participation was reported at 61.6%, which was also below expectations. Powell will likely continue to monitor this figure as the 5.8% unemployment figure released today fails to account for the millions of eligible workers that have given up their job searches. He has commented on this situation in the past, and it seems that the U5 and U6 figures are what he’s more concerned with. Labor participation is likely to improve as benefits expire for many recipients, but he’d obviously prefer tapering too late to too early.