During this holiday week, economy-watchers are likely to focus on the jobs numbers being released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday morning. After better-than-expected hiring in the July jobs report, the new data could help answer a key question: Was that uptick a one-time event or part of a larger trend?
The Census Bureau releases data on construction spending, which includes investments in residential, nonresidential, and public projects. The data often provides a sense of economic confidence, since it reflects companies’ willingness to make large investments.
Analysts expect to hear that construction spending increased by 0.4 percent in July, matching the increase reported for June.
New numbers on business productivity are released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Analysts expect the report to show productivity grew by 1.8 percent in the second quarter. That is an increase from the preliminary estimate of 1.6 percent. As a result, the cost of labor is expected to be revised downward to 1.5 percent for the second quarter, from the initial estimate of 1.7 percent.
Data from non-manufacturing industries are expected to remain essentially unchanged at 52.5 in August, compared with 52.6 in July, reflecting lukewarm growth.
Also, the Department of Labor releases weekly data on new jobless claims. Analysts expect the total to fall slightly to 370,000, an improvement from 374,000 in the previous week.
New jobs numbers come out. Non-farm payrolls are expected to drop by 127,000 in August, less than the decline of 163,000 in July. The drop isn’t expected to be big enough to change the unemployment rate, which is projected to remain at 8.3 percent.
Such numbers are unlikely to spur the Federal Reserve to intervene in the economy when members gather Sept. 12-13. But if the news on jobs does disappoint, it will certainly prompt another round of speculation about what the Fed might do, particularly in light of Chairman Ben Bernanke’s vow last Friday to be “forceful” in supporting a recovery.
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