This Friday, but usually the first Friday of each month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release its monthly employment summary.
While you may not have read the actual BLS report, it’s likely you’ve read or heard the media headlines that derive from it. For instance, last month’s news would have read something like, “203,000 jobs added in November, unemployment drops to 7%.”
As I’ve explained before, the U.S. economy can only be as strong as the amount of people with income to spend and invest. If you currently have a job and your employer is looking to hire new employees, it may also reinvest in its current workforce – offering added benefits, bonuses or salary increases. This means more money in your wallet to spend, invest, and save.
Economists, financial analysts, and the media, among others, pour over the details of the monthly employment report to help them gauge the health and direction of the economy. The report is one of the most eagerly anticipated and scrutinized economic news events each month. Reports that show large deviations in employment figures from those that forecasters were expecting can cause large movements in both stock prices and interest rates.
What the BLS report tells us and why it matters to you
The monthly BLS employment data is one of the better ways to gauge both the health of the jobs market and the direction of our economy. On Friday morning (the report will be released at 0830 EST) I’ll be closely watching the BLS report for December, and so should you.
It will tell us, among other things, how many people have jobs, whether wages and salaries are increasing and by how much, how many are currently looking for work but can’t find a job, and how many have found jobs and in which industries. This information gives us a better idea as to whether it’s a good or bad time to look for a job, make a particular investment, or start up a business.
The greater the increase in people finding jobs every month, or a trend of strong stable jobs growth, the better the conditions for economic growth. A monthly average of around 200,000 added jobs historically suggests a healthy, growing economy.
You can follow all of the action on the BLS website or in the news. A strong number of full-time positions added in the professional services, manufacturing and construction is a strong sign that businesses are confident in their future growth and the economy and that high-quality, better-paying jobs are being created. That’s key.
Right now, the general consensus among forecasters and economists is that about 195,000 jobs were added during December while the unemployment rate remained at 7.0%. I guarantee you’ll hear a lot of buzz in the news about this report tomorrow.