Wall Street analysts expect 175,000 new jobs added in January. Considering the recent run of strong economic data, that consensus estimate could be on the low side.
"We expect a surprise to the upside, likely above 200,000, because of the exuberance in the NFIB survey and the strong employment component of the ISM," says Dan North, chief economist at Euler Hermes North America, referring to the National Federation of Independent Business.
He added that this week's ADP report also bodes well for Friday's employment data. The U.S. economy added 246,000 jobs to private payrolls in January, according to the ADP National Employment Report.
The U.S. unemployment rate, which has shrunk from 10% in 2009 to 4.7% is expected to remain unchanged when the Labor Department provides the government's first jobs report under the Trump administration on Friday. Hourly earnings are expected to rise 0.3%.
TheStreet's Jim Cramer is also bullish on employment trends in America, calling the economy "very strong" despite lackluster consumer spending over the holiday season.
"Even though the hiring that we are getting is not producing any consumer spending other than on things like the Apple(AAPL) - Get Report iPhone 7, what you realize is that we need those rate hikes and we need them quickly. I would say we need four," says Cramer, whose Action Alerts PLUS portfolio includes Apple. "I really want the Fed to get ahead of what I think is going to be an economic expansion."
The all-important jobs data arrives only two days after the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee left the fed funds rate unchanged at 0.5% to 0.75%. The FOMC hiked rates by 25 basis points at its December meeting. The no-change decision was expected by economists, including North.
In its statement following the decision, the Fed reiterated that rate hikes would continue to be gradual and that the risks to its outlook remain roughly balanced. In a small change, the Fed said inflation "will rise" to 2%, rather than that it was expected to rise to the Fed's target rate.
Fed watchers now look ahead to Fed Chair Janet Yellen' semi-annual monetary policy testimony before Congress on Feb. 14 and 15. Minutes of this meeting will be released on Feb. 22.
"The Fed is probably getting worried about the increase in inflationary expectations, and a stock market that might be displaying, once again 'irrational exuberance'," says North. "Uncertainty over the trade dispute with Mexico will also put the Fed on hold till June in our opinion."
North says the Fed's caution in raising rate is unsurprising since the Fed is always late to the party.
"Historically, on average, after the first hike, the Fed chases inflation for 31 months until it peaks out," says North, who is expecting at least two more rate hikes in 2017.