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Data-Dependent Fed Watching Jobs and Autos

The Fed will no doubt be looking carefully at data for August, including the upcoming Employment Situation report, for signs that recent turmoil in the global economy and capital markets may be affecting U.S. consumer or business behavior. Judging by strong auto sales and the continued low level of layoffs, it would appear that the U.S. is weathering the late summer storm reasonably well.

Auto sales came in at a 17.8 million-unit annualized selling rate for August, the strongest pace in 10 years (Chart 1). Meanwhile, initial claims for unemployment insurance have been hovering in the 265,000 – 285,000 range for several weeks, and have been below the 300,000 level since March (Chart 2).

High on the importance meter, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the Employment Situation report for August on Friday. Current consensus on Bloomberg is 211,000, with the estimates covering a range of 175,000 to 254,000. That estimate is right in line with the average monthly job gain since 2011.

Ahead of the government report, ADP today released its estimation of 190,000 new jobs created in August. While this number is slightly below the recent average, it’s still a solid gain.  Add to it some public sector job creation, and the national number from BLS on Friday could easily reach 200,000 (Chart 3).

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