USA TODAY US Edition
Economists bet on jobs rebounding in February
Was January’s tepid job growth a blip or the start of a slowdown? Are manufacturers’ longstanding troubles, rooted in a weak global economy, spreading to the service sector?
This week’s economic news should begin to answer those questions and provide a sense of whether the economy is poised to rebound after a sluggish fourth quarter.
Manufacturing has been the economy’s weak spot, with a closely watched index indicating industrial activity has ebbed for four months.
The overseas woes and a strong dollar are curtailing exports, while low oil prices have prompted crude producers to scale back. Economists surveyed by Action Economics reckon the Institute for Supply Management will report Tuesday that its manufacturing index ticked up.
Construction spending has told a better story, hitting a postrecession high for 2015, but it slumped in the second half of the year, largely because of the struggling industrial sector.
Residential investment held up well as a tight supply of existing homes and pent-up demand from Millennials still living with their parents fueled building activity. Commercial construction likely bounced back, says The PNC Financial Services Group. Economists expect the Commerce Department to report that construction spending edged up 0.4% in January.
Economists say ISM will report Thursday that its nonmanufacturing index ticked up in February. The labor market started off 2016 with a sputter as employers added 151,000 jobs, down from an average 279,000 a month in the fourth quarter. Economists, however, said some payback was expected after warm weather helped drive the outsized gains late last year. They expect the Labor Department to report
Friday that job growth returned to form in February, with nearly 200,000 additional jobs.