US NFP Preview: 10 Major Banks expectations from March payrolls report

Today, the US jobs report for March is due out, and as we get closer to the release time, here are the expectations as forecasted by the economists and researchers of 10 major banks, regarding the upcoming employment data.

Most of the economists and researchers are expecting March US NFP to post a reading in between 160K to 190K, following weak February data when jobs rose by 20k. In addition, they are forecasting the US unemployment rate to remain steady at 3.8% in March.

Danske Bank

“The US labour market looks strong on most parameters and the weak increase in nonfarm payrolls in February was most likely a fluke after the big increase in January.”

“We expect nonfarm payrolls rose 190,000 in March and that average hourly earnings rose +0.25% m/m, implying a fall in the annual growth rate to 3.3% y/y from 3.4% y/y.”

“If we are right, the jobs report should support markets, which have rallied this week based on renewed growth optimism, as the US is not about to fall into recession just yet.”

TD Securities

“Following two zig-zagging reports for January and February, we look for payrolls to return to a more sustainable 165k print in March. In particular, we expect a recovery in employment in the construction sector following a sharp decline in February that probably reflected adverse weather effects. We also look for an improvement in services employment to be led by job gains in the education and leisure sectors.”

“All in, the household survey should show the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.8% in March, while we expect wages to rise by a “soft” 0.3% m/m pace as we anticipate some payback from the February rise. This should bring down the annual print by a tenth to 3.3%.”


“Expect 165,000 in March for the US NFP from a subpar 20,000 increase in February.”

“Average hourly earnings rose 0.3% m-o-m in March. Depending on rounding, this may be enough to keep the y-o-y rate of increase unchanged at 3.4%.”

“The unemployment rate fell to 3.8% in February from 4.0% in January, as furloughed federal employees who were previously on temporary layoff returned to work. We expect the unemployment rate was steady at 3.8% in March.”

Wells Fargo

“After the two volatile months to start this year, we suspect seasonal distortion is still affecting nonfarm payrolls data. If, as we expect, Friday’s employment report shows employers added 160,000 jobs in March, the January payroll change would be traditionally categorized as the rogue payroll print for Q1-2019.”

“Even as the expansion is on pace to become the longest on record, the increasing variability between the initial monthly payroll estimates suggests the magnitude of seasonal distortion in the first quarter may be increasing and obscuring analysts’ interpretation of the labor market.”

National Bank Financial

“Jobless claims edged lower in the month, pointing to a very low rate of layoffs. Hiring, meanwhile, may have rebounded nicely from the prior month’s frigid pace.”

“Accordingly, we’re calling for a +180K print. The unemployment rate, for its part, may stay put at 3.8% if, as we believe, the household survey shows a modest increase in employment.”


“Markets are focusing on the release of the March US nonfarm payroll report. The Bloomberg consensus expects a rise of 180k nonfarm jobs last month, following weak February data when jobs rose by 20k.”

“The March jobs data, if realised, would put job numbers back near the three month average of 186k. Whilst jobs momentum gives a good proxy of underlying growth in the economy, fixed income markets will be keenly watching the average hourly earnings print.”

“Hourly earnings jumped to 3.4% y/y in February, its highest level since April 2009; and if that were to rise further, inflation concerns would inevitably resurface. The unemployment rate is seen steady at 3.8%.”


“The Feb 2019 nonfarm payrolls result came as a significant shock to the market, coming in at just 20k. Still, for the year– to–date, the average monthly gain is robust at 166k.”

“Come Mar, we look for a 185k gain to keep month–average growth around 170k. There is however a material risk of significant positive revisions to Feb, and hence of a softer Mar.”

“While the unemployment rate will most likely be unchanged at 3.8% in Mar, the trend remains downward. On our expectations, 3.5% could be seen in the second half of 2019.”

“Hourly earnings will remain a focus in coming months. At 3.4%yr, wages growth is well up on its lows, but still not indicative of a 'hot' labour market. This modest uptrend should persist through 2019, to near 4.0%yr.”

Standard Chartered

“We forecast non-farm payroll gains of 190,000, and steady unemployment (U-3) and labour participation rates at 3.8% and 63.2%, respectively. We expect AHE to again increase by 3.4% y/y, with slightly lower monthly gains of 0.3% (compared to 0.4% in February).”

“We believe the February weakness in employment gains was largely a payback for January, with both months impacted by unusually cold weather and the government shutdown. March data should therefore be closer to the underlying labour-market trend.”

“With the worst of tariff effects and slowdown in China arguably behind us, hiring in this area should also keep up. Elsewhere, businesses continue to cite difficulty in sourcing qualified workers, which indicates that labour markets remain tight.”

Nordea Markets

“The non-farm payrolls report will be more closely watched than usual after the weak 20k reading last month. Was it a distorted one-off or a sign of something more fundamental?”

“Our NFP model suggests a 2-month average of a little less than 100k for the monthly job creation. The weakest signal seen in this model since Q1 2016. However, a 2-month average of just below 100K would imply 170-180k this month, close to the consensus expectations. Again, we see the risk picture mainly tilted to the downside.”


“The ISM manufacturing index for March saw a five-point jump in its employment sub-component so we think a 160,000 reading for March payrolls is achievable. We also think there is scope for an upward revision to the February reading. The consensus estimate is for payrolls growth of 179,000 within a range of 120,000-280,000 from 71 different economists according to the Bloomberg survey.”

“We look for another 0.3% month on month (MoM) gain, which has the potential to push the annual rate of wage growth up to 3.5%. The consensus is for 0.3% MoM growth with the annual rate holding at 3.4%.”

“The unemployment rate dropped from 4% to 3.8% last month and we suspect it will hold at that level in March.”

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