Friday's Manufacturing Jobs Numbers Will Rate Closer Look

A higher-than-expected number of initial claims for unemployment insurance last week makes tomorrows U.S. Labor Department release of July employment figures, including manufacturing, worth a closer-than-usual look. The department is slated to report U.S. employment data at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time on Friday, August 4.

Even with jobless claims rising by 14,000 last week to 315,000, this measure of labor market conditions remains relatively low, suggesting fewer layoffs. Indeed, during the week ending July 29, Michigan, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Tennessee reported fewer manufacturing-sector layoffs, according to Labor Department unemployment-claims data released on August 3.

However, the recent relatively low numbers for initial claims could be a result of less hiring, advises Merrill Lynch & Co., New York. Also, note that July is riddled with seasonal adjustment issues related to retooling shutdowns in the auto sector -- in other words, they are not providing a clear signal about the labor market at this point, says Merrill.

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