A big week of economic data is coming, and it's expected to confirm that the economy, while not boiling hot, is simmering along nicely.
Economists surveyed by Econoday expect the economy to have added 170,000 new jobs in November, while a Dow Jones survey puts the number at 180,000. Both surveys expect the unemployment rate to remain at 4.9%. Before that happens, the Commerce Department will announce revised estimates for third-quarter economic growth. Economists in both surveys expect the initial estimate of 2.9% annualized growth to be revised upward to 3.1%
But the strength of October economic data that has been coming out all month has some economists thinking slightly bigger, especially on jobs -- the first big piece of November data to be released.
"Everything [announced] in November has been a surprise on the upside so why not jobs?," said Naroff Economic Advisors president Joel Naroff, who predicts 175,000 to 200,000 new jobs.
With the economy at or near full employment -- a conclusion bolstered by the move in core inflation to 1.7% over the last 12 months, closing in on the Federal Reserve's 2% target rate -- job creation has slowed this year from the pace the economy set in 2015. But its longest-ever streak of months of consecutive job creation is all but assured to continue, boosting employment for the 74th straight month. The economy has added an average of 181,000 jobs a month this year, the Labor Department says.
While consensus estimates say November's number will be in that range again, the case for it being higher turns on recent gains in retail sales and a weather-related glitch in October, Moody's Analytics economist Ryan Sweet said. Hurricane Matthew held down employment in October as an unusually high number of workers with jobs were temporarily idled, said Sweet, whose firm expects a 215,000-job November gain. Another key is whether seasonal hiring began in time to affect November's numbers, he said.