Non-Farm Payroll (NFP) Forecast – September 2013

This article presents the Trader Edge aggregate neural network model forecast for the September 2013 non-farm payroll data, which would normally be released tomorrow morning, but will probably be delayed due to the Government shutdown.

Non-Farm Payroll (NFP) Model Forecast - September 2013

The Trader Edge aggregate NFP model represents the average of three neural network forecasting models, each of which employs a different neural network architecture.  Unlike expert systems, neural networks use algorithms to identify and quantify complex relationships between variables based on historical data.  All three models derive their forecasts from seven explanatory variables and the changes in those variables over time.

The table in Figure 1 below includes the monthly non-farm payroll data for two months:  August and September 2013.  The August data was released last month and the non-farm payroll data for September 2013 would normally be released tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM EDT, but may be delayed as a result of the Government shutdown.

The model forecasts are in the third data row of the table (in blue).  Note that past and current forecasts reflect the latest values of the independent variables, which means that forecasts will change when revisions are made to the historical economic data.

The monthly standard error of the model is approximately 78,500 jobs.  The first and last data rows of the table report the forecast plus 0.5 standard errors (in green) and the forecast minus 0.5 standard errors (in red), respectively.  All values are rounded to the nearest thousand.  If the model errors were normally distributed, roughly 31% of the observations would fall below -0.5 standard errors and another 31% of the observations would exceed +0.5 standard errors.

The actual non-farm payroll release for August 2013 is in the second data row of the table (in purple).  The consensus estimate (reported by for September 2013 is also in the second data row of the table (in purple).  The reported and consensus NFP values also include the deviation from the forecast NFP (as a multiple of the standard error of the estimate).  Finally, the last column of the table includes the estimated changes from August to September 2013.

Figure 1: Non-Farm Payroll Table September 2013

Figure 1: Non-Farm Payroll Table September 2013

Model Commentary

The aggregate model forecast for September is 210,000, which is up an impressive 40,000 jobs from last month's revised forecast of 170,000.  The consensus estimate for September is 183,000, which is 14,000 higher than the August NFP release.  The actual August data was almost exactly equal to the August forecast (-0.01 S.E.), but the consensus estimate for September is materially below the model forecast  (-0.34 S.E.).  The fact that the September forecast exceeds the consensus estimate by 27,000  jobs and is 40,000 higher than the August forecast bodes well for the market - assuming the dysfunctional Government ever becomes functional again.

The February 2013 NFP data (the large, one-month spike above 300,000 in Figure 2 below) was clearly an anomaly. The NFP data had been trending lower since late last year, but has stabilized over the past few months and may be beginning to pick up slightly.

Figure 2: Non-Farm Payroll Graph September 2013

Figure 2: Non-Farm Payroll Graph September 2013


Basic forecasting tools can help you identify unusual consensus economic estimates, which often lead to substantial surprises and market movements.  Identifying such environments may help you protect your portfolio from these corrections and help you determine the optimal entry and exit points for your strategies.

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About Brian Johnson

I have been an investment professional for over 30 years. I worked as a fixed income portfolio manager, personally managing over $13 billion in assets for institutional clients. I was also the President of a financial consulting and software development firm, developing artificial intelligence based forecasting and risk management systems for institutional investment managers. I am now a full-time proprietary trader in options, futures, stocks, and ETFs using both algorithmic and discretionary trading strategies. In addition to my professional investment experience, I designed and taught courses in financial derivatives for both MBA and undergraduate business programs on a part-time basis for a number of years. I have also written four books on options and derivative strategies.
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One Response to Non-Farm Payroll (NFP) Forecast – September 2013

  1. Pingback: September 2013 Non-Farm Payroll Released Tomorrow Morning | Trader Edge

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