March 5 - The ADP private payrolls number came in weaker than forecasts, raising new questions about how much the weather is impacting the job market and the economy at large ahead of Friday's monthly employment report. Bobbi Rebell reports.
PLEASE NOTE THIS EDIT CONTAINS 4:3 MATERIAL Forecasting the economy continues to suffer from the weather. The latest data on jobs- private payrolls were weaker than expected- once again clouded by harsh winter storms. Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics: SOUNDBITE: MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think it's the weather. It's been awfully cold this winter, as a very bad February. In fact, we had a terrible winter storm that shut down much of the southeast, and east coast during the week. The BLS conducts its survey, and of course, that is the period over which ADP is calculated. And I think it just is weighing on all economic data including the jobs data." A similar theme in a separate report, from the Institute for Supply Management showing the services sector showed the weakest reading since February of 2010. While not as dramatic- the Fed's Beige book also linked some economic weakness to it. The U.S. central bank described the economy's expansion in recent weeks as "modest to moderate" with the bad weather causing a "slight" decline in activity in two of twelve districts. But there is more to the economic troubles than snow, rain and sleet, says Milton Ezrati, chief economist and market strategist at Lord Abbett. SOUNDBITE: MILTON EZRATI, CHIEF ECONOMIST AND MARKET STRATEGIST, LORD ABBETT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "What's been holding it back fundamentally is what has been holding it back since this recovery began in 2009, 2010. There are a lot of people, particularly managers in business who have been affected by that Great Recession and the financial crisis that preceded it and so they are moving very cautiously. They are reluctant to hire. They are reluctant to expand. They are reluctant to spend money. They have an enormous amount of cash on their balance sheets. They are reluctant to use it." These reports come ahead of Friday's comprehensive employment report- and raise the possibility of yet a third month of sub-par nonfarm payroll gains in February. SOUNDBITE: MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "A real tell as to whether weather is having the impact that I think it is, is we'll see on Friday, with the jobs numbers, and that is hours worked per week. Because, in many cases people will go to work partially during the survey week get paid. And thus are counted as employed. But they will lose hours, and so if I am right about the weather effects, it should show up in less hours worked per week." Zandi expects the report will be even weaker- at around 130,000. Reuters forecast is 154,000.