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Labor market conditions gradually improve

The ADP calculation of job losses in February was 20,000, right in line with expectations. If the payroll numbers released this Friday don't show something close to zero or a small positive, then it will most likely be due to all the snowstorms in the East, not because of any deterioration in the economy. The labor market continues to gradually improve. Net job gains are at hand or just around the corner. Of course, we're still a long way from returning to conditions that might be considered healthy or robust. The economy is going to be "weak" for most people for at least the balance of this year even if we do see job gains starting this month.

From the market's perspective, however, this is good news. The market has been worried about a lot of things of late, particularly the prospect of a "double-dip" recession. There is no sign in the numbers released today that this is likely. On the contrary, the numbers keep pointing to a recovery that is spreading throughout the economy. Not a great recovery, but a broad and gradual recovery.

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