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This Week's Big Economic Event: Friday's U.S. Job Numbers

The U.S. Labor Department is slated to report on June employment on Friday, July 8, and if Merrill Lynch & Co. is correct, the news won't be good for U.S. manufacturing. Merrill expects the numbers to show that 25,000 manufacturing jobs were lost last month.

Merrill is also betting that job creation in the overall nonfarm economy will be less than the 180,000 economists generally were anticipating as the July 4 holiday weekend began. Merrill's estimate: 160,000 new jobs, just above the number needed each month to keep up with population increase.

"The unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 5.1%, consistent with the modest improvement in the jobs hard to get' and jobs plentiful' ratio," says Merrill. "The average workweek will like remain unchanged at 33.8 hours, with brisk housing activity boosting construction hours, but reduced auto production weighing on the manufacturing workweek."

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