As vacation ends, market’s focus turns to jobs

At the end of the Labor Day weekend, reality returns. On Tuesday, the nation’s workforce — including Wall Street traders, analysts and economists — gets back to work, kicking off the final month of the third quarter. It’s fitting the job market will take center stage, with a trio of employment reports to be rolled out in the post-holiday week.

Traffic travels past the Chamber of Commerce building in Washington, DC. (Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images)

Jobs are a key underpinning of a healthy economy. People who earn paychecks are likely to be more willing consumers, better able to snap up back-to-school supplies, such as notebooks and clothes, or buy a new car. That added spending helps pad the top and bottom lines of American businesses, whose stock prices reflect the profits they earn.

That’s why fresh readings on the jobs market will attract a lot of attention on Wall Street.

The first data point comes Thursday, when payroll processor ADP reports how many jobs were created in the private sector in August. Wall Street forecasts a median of 215,000 new jobs, Citigroup says. Also on Thursday comes the latest weekly reading on the number of people signing up for first-time jobless claims. The past two weeks, the number has come in under 300,000, at 298,000 and 299,000, respectively. The median forecast for the week ending Aug. 30 is 298,000.

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The big jobs report comes Friday, when the government issues its August employment report. After job gains of 209,000 in July and 298,000 in June, the median forecast for August is 220,000 new jobs, according to Citigroup.

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