WHAT: U.S. employment report for April
WHEN: Friday, May 6, at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT)
NONFARM PAYROLLS PRIVATE PAYROLLS
Median +186,000 +200,000
Minimum +118,000 +148,000
Maximum +325,000 +350,000
Prior +216,000 +230,000
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AVG WORK WEEK AVG HRLY EARNINGS
Median 8.8 percent 34.3 hours +0.2 pct
Minimum 8.6 percent 34.3 hours +0.1 pct
Maximum 9.0 percent 34.4 hours +0.5 pct
Prior 8.8 percent 34.3 hours +0.0
FACTORS TO WATCH:
U.S. payroll growth likely eased in April as employers responded to rising gasoline prices by scaling back on hiring.
Slower economic growth in the first quarter will also be felt in April's employment report, expected to show employers added 186,000 jobs after expanding payrolls by 216,000 in March -- which was the most in 10 months. Still, payrolls will have grown for seven straight months.
High energy costs held back the economy to an annual growth rate of 1.8 percent, braking sharply from a 3.1 percent clip in the fourth quarter. The price of gasoline for all grades rose 6.6 percent or 24 cents per gallon in April from March.
The anticipated slowdown in job creation was telegraphed by rises in applications for state unemployment benefits, as well as the four-week average of claims.
The rise in claims between the March and April survey period was a combination of technical factors and supply-chain disruptions related to the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Though some auto makers briefly closed plants and reduced hours because of part shortages, they would not necessarily have laid off workers. The Institute for Supply Management survey showed a dip in the employment gauge.
The moderation in employment is expected to be temporary, with energy prices seen leveling off in the summer. Economists expect the economy to regain speed in the second quarter, with the labor market taking up some of the burden for growth.
Although there were five weeks between the March and April survey period, rather than the normal four weeks, that should not have an impact on the payrolls figure as the Bureau for Labor Statistics' seasonal adjustment factor should take this into account.
The unemployment rate is seen steady at a two-year low of 8.8 percent in April, but could rise as those workers who have dropped out of the labor force return. The jobless rate has declined a full percentage point since November, the largest four-month decline since February 1984.
The private sector will likely account for all of the jobs created in April, with employers expected to have hired 200,000 new workers -- building on March's 230,000 gain. Though private payrolls have grown for 13 straight months, they are still roughly 7 million below their pre-recession levels.
The economy has recovered only a fraction of the more than 8 million jobs lost in the 2007-2009 recession. Job growth of between 250,000 and 300,000 a month is needed to have a sizable impact on the pool of 13.5 million jobless Americans.
The unemployment rate is being closely watched by the Federal Reserve, which last month signaled it was in no hurry to start withdrawing the massive stimulus it has lent the economy, The U.S. central bank lowered its projection for unemployment for this year and 2012.
Government employment is expected to have shrunk for a sixth straight month in April.
Employment gains last month were most likely in the private services sector, which accounts for more than 80 percent of U.S. economic activity. Goods-producing industries payrolls likely slowed again in April, with construction employment probably declining and manufacturing hiring moderating somewhat.
The employment report is also expected to show the average work week unchanged at 34.3 hours for a third straight month and no sign of wage inflation, with average hourly earnings rising 0.2 percent after being flat in March. (Polling by Bangalore unit; Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by James Dalgleish)