Ahead of Friday's official unemployment figure, the firm Automatic Data Processing released its own monthly report showing private companies in the United States put on 209,000 jobs in March, down from 230,000 added in February but still a strong gain.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' numbers for March are going to be the subject of much scrutiny, after Fed chief Ben Bernanke said last week he doesn't understand why the unemployment rate continues to drop as the economy grows at a "modest rate." But even though he doesn't totally understand the recent sharp gains, CNN notes that Bernanke falls into a camp of economists who believe the unemployment rate is heading back to a normal level of 5 or 6 percent, as opposed to those who believe permanent changes to the labor market mean higher unemployment around the current level of 8.3 percent is the new normal. The ADP report should bolster hopes that March will turn out to be another month of strong employment gains. Economists surveyed by Reuters predicted the U.S. would add 203,000 jobs, and those surveyed by Bloomberg estimated the increase at 206,000. Beating those expectations would be just fine.