Financial and economic forecasters have long been the punching bag of punters and traders for making spectacularly wrong calls. But a clutch of economists looked exceptionally good on Friday. Nine of them, or about 10 percent of the latest Reuters Polls sample on U.S. non-farm payrolls, got the net number of new jobs created in May exactly right at 175,000. And a whole lot of them came very close.
For a survey of companies conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that itself has a margin of error of plus or minus 100,000 this is no small achievement – or stroke of luck.
But it may also be a good sign that jobs growth is getting more steady, a much more stable target to try and pin down each month. The range of forecasts provided – from 125,000 jobs to 210,000 – was also the narrowest so far this year.
While the growth rate needs to accelerate to create meaningful change in the jobs market, most say this is a good sign for the economy, most specifically for the unemployed who are actively looking for work.
That also may mean that the Federal Reserve could soon begin trimming down some of the $85 billion in bond purchases it is conducting each month to stimulate an economy running on near-zero interest rates. But it is still far from certain that will happen any time soon.