The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

November jobs: How much will Sandy affect the big number?

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The federal Labor Department will release its jobs report for November bright and early Friday morning. As usual, I'll be on the dawn patrol to scrutinize the numbers. Last month, the much-watched and heavily parsed report showed the domestic economy adding 171,000 jobs in October.

That was better than expected. The labor participation rate ticked up modestly as more people began looking for work — which was enough to push the headline unemployment rate up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent on September.

Importantly, August and September saw their jobs totals revised up, indicating an economy performing better than previously thought.

The trend suggests that we could see a good November report, particularly as the government recently revised its estimates of U.S. economic growth in the third quarter to 2.7 percent from 2 percent.

But ADP, a firm that tracks payroll and releases its own jobs report before the Labor Department, said on Wednesday that the economy added only 118,000 jobs in November. A Bloomberg survey of economists predicts that November will come in at only 80,000.

What happened after the relatively solid November?

Superstorm Sandy.

An economy growing at close to 3 percent should be able to add 200,000 or more jobs each month - unless a massive natural disaster strikes squarely at one of the most economically productive regions of the entire country: the East Coast. 

So it's likely that we'll only see something like 100,000 jobs added at the maximum when the November payrolls report hits. The unemployment rate could rise to 8 percent. But there will be a very big asterisk next to those numbers — for the negative Sandy effect. For what it's worth, there's a good possibility that November's number could be revised up, close to 200,000.

(By the way, we're going to pull the cover off a brand new interactive jobs graphic Friday morning. So get ready to see what we can do at KPCC.org with big data! I'm pretty excited about it and will have more information at...about 5:30 a.m.!)

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter. And ask Matt questions at Quora.

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