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Market Euphoria About Jobs Report Has Already Ebbed

The Bureau of Labor Statistics often revises the initial releases of the monthly employment situation in subsequent reports. For example, January's number dropped to 119,000 after an original posting of 157,000 new payrolls. The revisions can often work in a positive direction, like when January's report revised November 2012 payrolls to 247,000 after they had initially been reported at just 146,000.

Taking the report at face value, it's important to note that 236,000 new jobs likely was the most welcome surprise since the spring of last year, when economists credited a warmer-than-expected winter for a surge in added nonfarm payrolls and a steady tick down in the unemployment rate.

"It was a surprising number, the predictions were more in the 150,000 range, which is consistent with somewhat recent levels that we've seen," David Weiman, an economist at Barnard College, said in an interview.

Asked if this was the sign of a bullish trend in the labor market, Weiman said Americans may have to wait and see what happens in Congress with the budget impacts and negotiations.

President Barack Obama spent a large part of the past month warning Congress and the American people that the inability to avoid sequestration -- $85 billion in 2013 across-the-board spending cuts that went into effect on March 1 -- would lead to significant paycuts and furloughs of government civilian workers. He said the impacts of cuts may not immediately be felt in the private sector, but that lower business profits, fewer hires and layoffs would come if the sequester remained in place.

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan agency that does analysis for Congress, forecast that absence of sequestration would lead to about 0.6 percentage points faster GDP growth. Fiscal hawks have argued that though the cuts would hurt GDP in the short run, it would help rein in government spending and be a small step toward reining in the deficit -- a benefit across the long term, they argue.

The Fed and others have maintained that reduced spending and narrowed deficits are critical to a healthy economy, but they have contended that the environment is too fragile to make those cuts right now. Essentially, these "doves" argue against austerity measures.
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