This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Jobs Report Is a Rorschach Test

Stocks in this article: VZ WMT HD CSCO

WASHINGTON ( TheStreet ) -- A wide array of predictions exist for the U.S. job market in January ahead of the government's nonfarm payrolls report Friday, but the more upbeat assessments come laden with a host of caveats.

First, the good news: The consensus predicts that 15,000 jobs were added to payrolls in January, according to That would represent only the second positive reading in the last two years, but a definite step in the right direction after December's report showed employers shed 85,000 jobs. Still, individual estimates are varying widely in both directions, suggesting that a negative number wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

Analysts also expect the nation's unemployment rate to hold steady at 10%.


But job growth remains elusive. Just see Thursday's initial jobless claims report , which showed applications edged up again last week to their highest level since December. That helped accelerate a sharp stock selloff Thursday, as jittery investors turned pessimistic ahead of the jobs report.

Now, the grim news: Even if we see a marginal upturn in jobs, some economists say they may need to be taken with a major grain of salt. The December cold snap -- it was the 14th coldest showing for the month in the last 115 years -- likely played some role in the unexpected drop in jobs that month, particularly in construction. Employers, in turn, probably picked up more workers in the aftermath.

Also, fewer people showed up for work because of the bitter cold, making surveying by the Bureau of Labor Statistics more problematic, says Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial. Seasonal adjustment measures, too, may inflate the January figure more than usual. In typical years, retailers and others hire more in October and November in preparation for the holiday season. They then release those workers in the new year. Seasonal modeling adjusts for this trend, weighing down the tally in the fall while boosting the number in the spring.

1 of 4

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,804.80 +26.65 0.15%
S&P 500 2,070.65 +9.42 0.46%
NASDAQ 4,765.38 +16.9840 0.36%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs