Market Insider

Why this is the one number to watch in the week ahead

March employment gain expected
March employment gain expected

If you had to pick one, weekly jobless claims is the most important number to watch in the week ahead, since it should give some important clues about the March jobs report.

Deutsche Bank's chief U.S. economist, Joseph LaVorgna, says he's most interested in that number, in part because it is for the week that is also the survey week for the government's employment report, expected April 4. The monthly jobs report is viewed as key in the Fed's policy deliberations.

LaVorgna expects claims this week of about 325,000, when reported Thursday morning.

This past week, claims fell to a three-month low of 315,000, suggesting a stronger job market. The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better read on the labor market, fell to 330,500, the lowest level since December.

February's employment report showed 175,000 nonfarm payrolls were created for the month, better than January's 129,000 and December's 84,000. Those reports were all impacted by severe winter weather, and LaVorgna said there could be some weather impact in March's jobs data as well.

Job seekers wait in line to enter a job fair hosted by in Dallas.
Ben Torres | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"I would say it's not going to be as good as it could be—about 200,000 to 225,000 on the headline and a reversal of gains in the unemployment rate," he said. Unemployment rose to 6.7 percent in February, from 6.6 percent.

The claims this coming week are reported a day after the Fed winds down it's two-day meeting. LaVorgna expects the Fed to remove a reference to a 6.5 percent unemployment rate as the level where it would start to consider raising rates. Fed officials have stressed the number is not a trigger for policy.

—By CNBC's Patti Domm. Follow her on Twitter @pattidomm.