Goldman Sachs economist Jan Hatzius expects the report to show 175,000 jobs were created in March, and the unemployment rate at 7.7 percent. He also saw special factors affecting the report, but he expects some of those factors to keep hiring at about the same level for the near future. He expects economic growth to limp at a 2 percent rate for the second and third quarter before improving at the end of the year, along with employment.
Hatzius said the sequester, or automatic federal spending cuts, probably resulted in a 10,000 hit to the March jobs number, but that impact will increase to 20,000 to 30,000 in subsequent months. He said that is the result of a freeze in government hiring, and possible cuts at private sector defense contractors.
He also expects to see construction impacted by the weather. But there should be job increases in "some of the areas that always show gains, namely health care, a little bit in things like hotels and restaurants and a little bit in clearly one that should show gains – manufacturing," he said.
But some economists were still expecting to see job creation of more than 200,000. Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial said she expects to see 210,000 jobs created in March, but 220,000 when government layoffs are not counted.
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"I'm looking for a pretty good number even though ADP was a bit lighter, and the composition now depending heavily on the service sector. I'm looking for more manufacturing jobs, a little more in construction even though it didn't show up in the ADP report. There's a lot of construction activity going on out there," she said. "Interesting, that the truck sales we saw yesterday were linked to the housing market."
Tom Gimbel, CEO of LaSalle Network, a Chicago staffing and recruiting firm, said what he sees in his business is encouraging for the job market, even though he sees March as being soft in part due to the Easter and Passover holidays. "The numbers for March were okay, but my April numbers look really good," he said .
Gimbel said companies held back hiring in the second half of last year ahead of the election and fiscal cliff, but they are active again and he expects a lot of activity in the summer months. "Another thing we're seeing in the Midwest is that marketing has been very hot. It's a really good sign for the economy when marketing and human resources are doing well, and we're seeing a lot of activity in those two areas," he said. "They were the first two areas to be hit."
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Gimbel said he expects to add 30 employees to his own 100-person firm. "I think what I see looking at my clients is that there's no correlation between companies making more money, the stock market going up and increased hiring. People are looking at getting 2003, 2004, 2005 (hiring) levels, and that's not going to happen. Companies are showing they don't need surplus amounts of people in order to make money," he said.
"Where the jobs are going to come from, I don't think they are in the corporate bellwethers," he said. He expects to see hiring by smaller companies. "They can be business to consumer, but more business to business and they have currently 50 to 200 employees, and they're going to grow. That's where the sustained growth comes from."