The market-moving U.S. jobs report came in better than expected on Friday, with nonfarm payrolls rising 103,000, beating economist expectations of 60,000. Data for July and August was also revised up showing 99,000 more jobs added than initially reported. The unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 percent. These stronger than expected figures may help ease fears that the U.S. economy will slip back into recession.
Even before today’s number there were signs that U.S. data could surprise less to the downside – Citigroup’s U.S. surprise index, while still negative, has recovered since the summer. However, this recovery hasn’t been reflected in a pickup in bond yields. 10 year Treasury yields, which had been moving together with the surprise index, remain close to 2%.
The jobs report wasn’t all good news though. The economy needs to grow by at least 2.5% annually with payrolls expanding by 150,000 positions a month to keep the jobless rate from rising. Long-term unemployment also remains stubbornly high with the average duration of unemployment at a new record 40.5 weeks.