Employment data fireworks to end this week

06/28/2010 3:26 pm EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

The Fourth of July fireworks come early this year.

Although by the calendar, the Fourth isn’t until Sunday, the big explosive economic news gets delivered on Thursday and Friday.

Thursday brings the possibility of a few ooohs, aaahs, and bangs with the report on initial claims for unemployment. The series has been volatile lately week to week, but the general trend has been disappointing with the number of new claims for unemployment failing to fall as quickly as hoped.

The consensus among economists calls for a slight increase to 458,000 from a prior 457,000.

The direction seems reasonable to me although the projected increase seems low considering the big drop off in construction activity that has followed the end of government subsidies for home buyers at the end of April.

The big boomers, however, are reserved for Friday.

That morning the government announces the non-farm payroll number and the unemployment rate for June. The consensus is calling for a drop in the number of people working of somewhere around 100,000 and slight rise in the unemployment rate to 9.8% from 9.7%. That would follow on the heels of disappointing job growth in May when the private sector added a piddling 41,000 jobs.

The bulk of the job gains for May came from a surge in hiring by the government of temporary census workers. That surge in hiring is over and many of these jobs will end in July. The end of temporary hiring will make it hard for June job numbers to show any month over month growth and, of course, the end of these jobs themselves in July will actually depress the payroll numbers.

These data releases have the demonstrated power to move stocks and with the long Fourth of July weekend ready to start just about as soon as the numbers are public you can bet that a lot of investors will be moving to the sidelines starting as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday. Volume is likely to get lighter as the week progresses. That in itself could add to any volatility on the numbers themselves.

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