US Economy

Behind the jobs numbers: Blackrock says THIS is key

10-year Treasury yield surges on jobs report
10-year Treasury yield surges on jobs report

Despite stronger-than-expected job creation in November, a slight rise in the participation rate coupled with no imminent wage pressures should give the Federal Reserve room to increase interest rates gradually, BlackRock's Jeff Rosenberg said Friday

The first Fed rate hike in nine years will likely come later this month "but it's all about the pace," the Blackrock chief investment strategist for fixed income told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

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He spoke shortly after the government reported that the U.S. economy created a better-than-expected 211,000 nonfarm payrolls in November. The jobless rate was 5 percent, which matched estimates.

The strong October jobs number was revised even higher to 298,000.

Average hourly earnings climbed 4 cents last month, which translates to a 2.3 percent annualized gain.

Read More What's the REAL unemployment rate?

The participation rate — a measure of workers who are either employed or actively looking for work — edged higher to 62.5 percent in November.

While the overall labor market continues to improve, the participation number shows there's still some slack. "[That] means a very shallow pace of increases following liftoff," Rosenberg said, referring to the initial Fed rate hike.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, told CNBC the jobs report means: "This is a Fed that's liftoff and pause. I say it's more like a 'hovermobile' than a rocket."

The Fed meets Dec. 15-16, and policymakers are largely expected to increase rates, which have been at near-zero percent since December 2008 in the wake of the financial crisis.

"What would be interesting is whether or not we get a unanimous vote," Swonk said. She said that forward guidance stressing a gradual path higher might act to "corral the cats and get a unanimous vote."

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Swonk said Fed Chair Janet Yellen seems to be thinking about letting unemployment overshoot a bit. "Let it fall a little lower. If we bring in more participation and get wages to accelerate, we get catch up. It's regaining ground lost."

But accelerating wages might prove a headwind for the stock market, Rosenberg said. "If you get greater wage inflation in an environment where you don't have pricing power, that's margin compression. So that's a bit of a challenge to the profit picture in 2016."

"It's certainly good for the real economy and good for the average person on the street," he continued. "It just might be a shift in who's getting that larger share of economic growth."

Swonk said her firm's projection on 2016 profits was for growth of 2 percent to 3 percent "after a lousy" 2015. "The easy low-hanging fruit on profits has been picked," she added.