U.S. December Hiring Probably Accelerated

Hiring in the U.S. probably accelerated in December for a second month, pointing to a strengthening labor market heading into 2012, economists said before a report this week.

Payrolls climbed by 155,000 workers after rising 120,000 the previous month, according to the median forecast of 84 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The unemployment rate rose after dropping in November to the lowest level in more than two years, the report may also show.

Sustained payroll gains are needed to chip away at joblessness and support household spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the world’s largest economy. At the same time, the financial crisis in Europe and political stalemate over ways to pare the U.S. budget deficit may be prompting companies to hold back amid concern the expansion will slow.

“It’s still moderate employment growth at a respectable pace,” said Sean Incremona, a senior economist at 4cast Inc. in New York. “We still do see a lot of uncertainty in the background that will probably be restraining hiring.”

The Labor Department’s report is due at 8:30 a.m. in Washington. Bloomberg survey estimates ranged from increases of 80,000 to 220,000. The U.S. jobless rate climbed to 8.7 percent in December from 8.6 percent the prior month, which was the lowest since March 2009, according to the survey median.

Today’s report will also include benchmark revisions to the household survey, which is used to calculate the monthly unemployment rate. Data for the past five years are under review.

Jobless Rate

European stocks advanced before the payrolls report, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) extending its third weekly gain. It was up 0.3 percent to 248.14 as of 9:37 a.m. in London, while London’s FTSE 100 Index rose 0.2 percent.

U.S. index futures were little changed. The March contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose less than 0.1 percent.

Employers added 1.45 million workers last year through November. The increase shows the economy has made little headway in recovering the 8.75 million jobs lost as a result of the recession that ended in June 2009.

The projected payroll gain would bring the average for July through December to 136,000, compared with 131,000 in the first six months of the year.

‘Robust’

The employment report may also show private employment, which excludes government jobs, climbed 178,000 after a 140,000 gain in November.

“Sales are robust, merchandise margins are strong, operating margins are growing,” Alexander Smith, chief executive officer of Fort Worth, Texas-based Pier 1 Imports Inc. (PIR), said on a Dec. 15 conference call with analysts. “There’s going to be a little more hiring in the first part of the year without a doubt.”

Other companies saw increased demand last month during the holiday shopping season. Same-store sales at U.S. retailers excluding Wal-Mart Stores Inc. rose 3.5 percent in December from a year earlier, according to figures yesterday from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Recent reports showing faster manufacturing, fewer Americans filing jobless claims, less household pessimism and stabilization in housing have helped spur share prices. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has gained 7.4 percent since a recent low on Nov. 28.

In the final three months of 2011, “clear signs emerged that U.S. consumers are more confident and that other underpinnings of our economy are either stable or slowly improving,” Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. sales for General Motors Co., said on a Jan. 4 conference call.

Faster job gains than those generated in 2011 may be needed to reduce unemployment. That’s one reason policy makers remain concerned.

“While indicators point to some improvement in overall labor market conditions, the unemployment rate remains elevated,” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and other members of the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement at the conclusion of a meeting last month in Washington.

                         Bloomberg Survey

==============================================================
                           Nonfarm  Private     Manu Unemploy
                          Payrolls Payrolls Payrolls     Rate
                            ,000’s   ,000’s   ,000’s        %
==============================================================
Date of Release              01/06    01/06    01/06    01/06
Observation Period            Dec.     Dec.     Dec.     Dec.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Median                         155      178        6     8.7%
Average                        158      177        9     8.7%
High Forecast                  220      230       20     8.8%
Low Forecast                    80      130        5     8.5%
Number of Participants          84       50       16       81
Previous                       120      140        2     8.6%
--------------------------------------------------------------
4CAST Ltd.                     160      175     ---      8.5%
ABN Amro Inc.                  150      170     ---      8.6%
Action Economics               150      170        5     8.7%
Aletti Gestielle               135      155     ---      8.7%
Ameriprise Financial Inc       170      185        5     8.7%
Bank of Tokyo- Mitsubishi      160      180     ---      8.5%
Bantleon Bank AG               140     ---      ---      8.6%
Barclays Capital               140      160     ---      8.6%
Bayerische Landesbank          160     ---      ---      8.6%
BBVA                           155      165     ---      8.6%
BMO Capital Markets            150     ---      ---      8.7%
BNP Paribas                    130     ---      ---      8.6%
BofA Merrill Lynch Research    175      190     ---      8.7%
Briefing.com                   165      200     ---      8.7%
Capital Economics              150     ---      ---      8.7%
CIBC World Markets             135     ---      ---      8.6%
Citi                           150     ---      ---      8.8%
ClearView Economics            130      150        5     8.7%
Commerzbank AG                 160     ---      ---      8.7%
Credit Agricole CIB            150     ---      ---      8.7%
Credit Suisse                  150      170     ---      8.8%
Daiwa Securities America       130      145     ---      8.8%
Danske Bank                    120      130     ---      8.7%
DekaBank                       160     ---      ---      8.7%
Desjardins Group               175     ---      ---      8.8%
Deutsche Bank Securities       155      175     ---      8.6%
Deutsche Postbank AG           150     ---      ---      8.7%
Exane                          150     ---      ---      8.7%
Fact & Opinion Economics       180      200     ---      8.6%
First Trust Advisors           190      225       20     8.6%
FTN Financial                  170      190     ---      ---
Goldman, Sachs & Co.           175     ---      ---      8.7%
Helaba                          80     ---      ---      8.8%
High Frequency Economics       175      150     ---      8.7%
HSBC Markets                   180      200     ---      8.7%
Hugh Johnson Advisors          130      150       10     8.8%
IDEAglobal                     175      190       10     8.6%
IHS Global Insight             150     ---      ---      8.7%
Informa Global Markets         145     ---        15     8.7%
ING Financial Markets          180      190       15     8.7%
Insight Economics              200     ---      ---      8.8%
Intesa-SanPaulo                150     ---      ---      8.7%
J.P. Morgan Chase              185      200        5     8.7%
Janney Montgomery Scott        136      156        5     8.8%
Jefferies & Co.                150      165     ---      8.5%
JH Cohn                        160      175     ---      ---
Landesbank Berlin              125     ---      ---      8.8%
Laurentian Bank Securities     200      220     ---      8.8%
LCA Consultores                170     ---      ---      ---
Maria Fiorini Ramirez          200      225     ---      8.7%
Market Securities              182     ---      ---      8.5%
MET Capital Advisors           140     ---      ---      8.7%
Mizuho Securities              125     ---      ---      8.7%
Moody’s Analytics              160      175        5     8.7%
Morgan Keegan & Co.            153     ---      ---      8.7%
Morgan Stanley & Co.           170     ---      ---      8.6%
National Bank Financial        150     ---      ---      8.7%
Natixis                        200     ---      ---      8.6%
Nomura Securities Intl.        175      190       10     8.6%
Nord/LB                        130      140        5     8.7%
OSK Group/DMG                  155     ---      ---      8.7%
O’Sullivan                     125      145     ---      8.7%
Paragon Research               220     ---      ---      8.8%
Parthenon Group                172     ---      ---      8.7%
Pierpont Securities LLC        135     ---      ---      8.7%
PineBridge Investments         175      195     ---      8.6%
PNC Bank                       200      215     ---      8.7%
Prestige Economics             165      185     ---      8.8%
Raiffeisenbank International   165      190     ---      8.6%
Raymond James                  145      165     ---      8.7%
RBC Capital Markets            120      137     ---      8.8%
RBS Securities Inc.            130     ---      ---      8.7%
Scotia Capital                 180      190     ---      8.7%
SMBC Nikko Securities          200      230     ---      8.8%
Societe Generale               140      160     ---      8.5%
Standard Chartered             210      185     ---      8.7%
State Street Global Markets    179      196       13     8.7%
Stone & McCarthy Research      130      140        6     8.8%
TD Securities                  170      190     ---      8.8%
UBS                            125      150     ---      8.6%
University of Maryland         140      160        5     8.7%
Wells Fargo & Co.              160      180     ---      8.7%
Westpac Banking Co.            150     ---      ---      8.8%
Wrightson ICAP                 170      190     ---      8.7%
==============================================================

To contact the reporter on this story: Timothy R. Homan in Washington at thoman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz in Washington at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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