The past year of forecasting U.S. payroll growth marks a bumpy road of U-turns on the timing of an elusive turning point to sustainable recovery, an analysis of Reuters polls shows.
In early 2011, an overwhelming majority of economists — 48 of 52 in the April poll and 38 of 46 in the May poll — said that turning point already had been reached.
More than a year later, it still seems a way off.
The U.S. economy added jobs at a monthly rate of 165,000 so far in 2012, far short of the 200,000 most say is representative of strong growth in a recovering economy.
Economists scored an unfortunate hat-trick last month – vastly overestimating the rise in payrolls between March to May. Actual jobs gained in those months were lower than the lowest forecast in each related Reuters poll. To be fair, the margin of error in reporting the non-farm payrolls change is about 100,000, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics — often leading to massive revisions in historical data.
Median estimates for June data due on Friday is for a gain of just 90,000 jobs, the lowest estimate so far this year, after the disappointing 69,000 in May, which came in 81,000 below the median expectation and 6,000 below the lowest forecast.