Several months of better than expected NFP results seem to be pointing to a steady improvement on the US labor market. Will we see another month of positive gains in March? Predictions of analysts taking part in the forecast report vary widely: from 100K to 300K jobs added.


"I would say that March is going to be in line with the past 6 months," suggests Luciano Jannelli, who expects a NFP number above 200K. "There is a good chance that this monthly average can be maintained through the remainder of the year," he adds. Alexandra Estiot agrees saying that "the next few months could see a catch-up, with more than 200,000 positions added every month."

Brian Kahn notes that "weekly claims have continued to improve" which might signalize "a number closer to or above 200K". Yohay Elam, who also notes this trend, additionally emphasizes the importance of the participation rate as "a rise in the participation rate and a gain of more than 250K will likely boost the dollar."

Alberto Muñoz displays less optimism and expects job creation of around 100-150K, suspecting that the considerable employment gains in February "partly came from unsustainable sources." Valeria Bednarik is also skeptical: "The US still needs to prove the world its recovery, with at least 1 more quarter of monthly increases in jobs' creation", she argues.

US NFP numbers for February will be released on April 5 at 12:30 GMT.

20 market experts took part in the forecast
301-330KMauricio Carillo
241-270KAlistair Cotton
211-240KAdam Narczewski, Steve Ruffley
181-201KYohay Elam, Ilian Yotov, Alexandra Estiot , Luciano Jannelli, Joseph Trevisani, Brian Kahn, David Pegler, Greg Michalowski, Phil Carr
151-180Gus Farrow, Bill Hubard, Valeria Bednarik, Nik Kalsi,
120-150Mark De La Paz, Alberto Muñoz, Dale J Pinkert

Below you will find the complete commentaries of some of the contributing experts.

Luciano Jannelli, Ph.D. - Chief Economist at MIG Bank:

LucianoJanelli"Employment data are very volatile and difficult to forecast at a monthly level. We have also seen significant revisions, as hirings have been revised up over the last 6 months. However, if I look at the recent upticks in durable good spending and in housing activity, then I would say that March is going to be in line with the past 6 months, thus there is a good chance that job creation will be in excess of 200’000. More importantly, I think there is a good chance that this monthly average can be maintained through the remainder of the year, such that the Fed can start gradually exiting QE3 early 2014."

Alexandra Estiot - Senior Economist at BNP Paribas:

Alexandra Estiot"The March reading of the labour market report is set to be very promising. Initial jobless claims are on the rise, but more crucially, employment components of surveys are very positive. While the US economy did not suffer that much from the run up to the fiscal cliff, it appears to weather rather well the fiscal fix. More specifically, households kept on spending despite the rise in the payroll tax rate: prospects for demand are then strengthening, and so the reasons to hire. The pace of job creations could be sustained as the business sector refrained from hiring as much staff as needed as the outlook remained blurred over the last few years. Since the horizon is getting clearer by the day, the next few months could see a catch-up, with more than 200,000 positions added every month. This would put the unemployment rate on a firmer downward trend. But the Fed will wait until the summer to slow its monthly security purchases."

Steve Ruffley - Chief Market Strategist at

Steve Ruffley"NFP had surprised to the upside for the last 3 readings. As I have previously said, every time the US needed good data to prop up the markets it delivered. With t S&P looking to make record highs, is there an opportunity for some profit taking and for a less than expected number? I feel that we can’t possibly see a higher number this time, and I believe that we are going to a fairly modest number this NFP. Not enough to rattle the market but just enough to see the markets continuing to creep towards those all time highs. I expect a figure of 205 with a range of 180 to 245 on the upside."

Brian Kahn - Owner of Jupiter Peak Financial, LLC:

Brian Kahn"Since I posted my last NFP estimate, weekly claims have continued to improve. There is a good chance we could see a number that gets closer to or above 200k. As I mentioned last month, I want to see what weekly claims do as I have a feeling we are getting to a "best case scenario" and they may start to level off or possibly increase just a bit. NFP Forecast: 185K."

Yohay Elam - Analyst at Forex Crunch:

Yohay Elam "The US economy is enjoying a somewhat accelerated recovery, and this could be reflected in another strong jobs report. A gain of 200-220K jobs could be seen now. Most recent indicators, including jobless claims which are at 5 year lows point to another good month. Apart from the change in jobs, it is important to note the participation rate, which the Fed watches closely. Another drop in the unemployment rate that is accompanied with a drop in the participation rate will not impress Bernanke and his colleagues. A rise in the participation rate and a gain of more than 250K will likely boost the dollar."

Alistair Cotton - Senior Analyst at Currencies Direct:

AlistairCotton"The US economy is proving to be in a different gear than the Eurozone and UK, and the positive data flow is likely to continue. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was as vague as ever on the details but reiterated that labour market conditions needed to improve substantially for the Fed to consider adjusting the flow of purchases. That means the Fed is hinting to the market that they will vary the amounts of purchases if and when it’s needed – but not for the foreseeable future. NFP Forecast: 260K."

Adam Narczewski - Financial Analyst at X-Trade Brokers, XTB:

Adam Narczewski "The recent NFP readings as well as the Unemployment Claims reports show the labor market market in the U.S has rebounded. Taking into account that information, I see a chance for the next NFP reading to be in the +200-230K range. The market actually expects good numbers and only a good number can give more strength to the USD. It all comes back to the possibility of the Fed decreasing QE by the end of this year. Good macro data gives arguments to proponents of such a move, like Bullard. In order for the USD to keep gaining, not only the NFP figure needs to be above 200K, but also the unemployment rate should fall. The reading itself will not guarantee the Fed will start signaling an exit strategy from QE. Last time, despite strong numbers, Bernanke (in front of Congress), depreciated that info and suggested QE is necessary.  If the reading is below 200K, we could see a corrective (upward) movement on the EUR/USD."

Bill Hubard - Chief Economist at

Bill Hubard"The 4-week average of initial jobless claims plunged 22,000 from the February to March employment report survey weeks to a 5-year low, pointing to underlying improvement in labour market conditions. But we expect initial sequester impacts will be a drag on payrolls this month. The Defence Department has already started laying off thousands of the 46,000 temporary workers it had coming into the year and has imposed a hiring freeze on its 800,000-person civilian workforce, who will face unpaid furloughs starting next month.  
Similar actions are also likely underway in many non-defence programmes, and there have been increasing reports of government contractors downsizing in response to the sequester cuts, which were locked in through the rest of the fiscal year when the House of Representatives Thursday passed the Senate’s amended version of its initial funding bill. We are forecasting a 175,000 gain in non-farm payrolls in March, building in a 50,000 drop in government jobs and a much smaller initial sequester impact on private sector employment. Therefore, at the time of writing, we are expecting NO change in the 7.7% unemployment rate."

Ilian Yotov - FX Strategist and Founder at AllThingsForex: 

Ilian Yotov "The early forecasts point to another month of decent job creation in line with the recent trend of improvement in the U.S. labor market. The U.S. economy is expected to add 190K jobs in March compared with 236K in February, while the unemployment rate stays unchanged at 7.7%. The USD could benefit from an upbeat NFP report on expectations that the Fed could take the first step toward monetary policy tightening sooner rather than later."

Alberto Muñoz, Ph.D. - Forex Analyst at

Alberto Muñoz "Last month's Non Farm Payrolls soared to 236,000 new jobs, suggesting that the US economy is clearly in the path of economic recovery. Also the unemployment rate improved significantly, falling from 7.9% to 7.7%. Anyway despite these are good numbers, they could be somehow artificial as people are quitting the workforce (thus improving the unemployment rate) and job growth in February partly came from unsustainable sources like the motion picture sector, which added around 20,000 jobs to the total.

Therefore I would expect a shrink in employment numbers for March, probably Non Farm Payrolls will sit around 100-150K and the unemployment rate will remain around 7.8%."

Valeria Bednarik - Chief Analyst with

"US employment data is again in the positive path, improving on monthly and weekly basis, which points for another strong reading for March. The NFP number should remain above 180K to maintain market confidence in current recovery, although it won't be enough to bring down unemployment rate, which will likely remain around 7.6%. I'm expecting a positive number, but I still believe the US needs to prove the world its recovery, with at least 1 more quarter of monthly increases in jobs' creation."