Trading floors always used to buzz with a combination of anticipation and a little bit of dread the first Friday of the month whenever U.S. payrolls numbers were released.
These days non-farm days have been relegated to the realm of trading floor sweepstakes and post-Friday lunch indulgence.
While the headline number still generates some excitement (mainly from those who are in sweepstakes), the impact it has on markets has diminished over time, with some people dismissing the print as a random number generator.
Take last Friday's headline number as an example. In March, the U.S. economy created 103,000 jobs, about 90,000 lower than expectations and mainly due to weather distortions. This was on first glance disappointing but when taken with the previous month's number (326,000, also an anomaly), the two-month average is still north of 200,000 while the 12-month rolling average is still about 190,000
This is very high for this point in the economic cycle as the U.S. is fast approaching peak employment and in its ninth year of expansion. Many analysts expect the trend to slow. Erik Nielsen, chief economist at Unicredit, expects the trend to drop to around 150,000 over the next couple of years.
The other key indicator in the report, the unemployment rate, has also been remarkably stable and has been holding in around 4.1 percent.
These days investors are more focused on the average hourly earnings print which provides valuable clues on wage growth. So much so that a "rogue" 2.9 percent print for January was enough to send fixed income markets into a tizzy. More crucially though, is that this number is still far from pre-crisis levels.