Futures for the S&P 500 are looking optimistic ahead of the Nonfarm Payrolls release at 8:30 am. Analysts are expecting the employment report to show the economy shed 520,000 jobs in May, a terrible number but, in fact, a slightly better reading than the 539,000 losses reported for April. The unemployment rate is expected to tick up 0.3 percentage points to 9.2%.

Analysts at DeutscheBank expect the headline figure to beat the consensus with a print of -500k, noting that government hiring could skew the number upwards.

“We think it is more important to focus on job losses in the private sector, rather than the total which includes government hiring, in assessing the health of the economy,” they wrote prior to the release.

Since the recession began in December 2007, 5.7 million jobs have vanished from the economy. The trend in the past two months has been slightly better than in the first quarter of the year, leading some economists to speak of stabilization in the labor market.

Even so, BMO’s Sal Guatieri notes that,“Another half-million net job losses would take the total in this recession to 6.3 million (or 4.6%), marking the worst labour market since the 1949 downturn.” Before the recession began, the unemployment rate was 4.5%.

Just as markets open an hour after the release, the Obama administration’s Christina Romer, who chairs  the Council of Economic Advisers, will speak on Bloomberg Television.

Then in the afternoon at 2:15, the Federal Reserve in Washington hosts a panel on financial markets and monetary policy. Vice Chairman Donald Kohn will be moderating the panel which includes San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, and IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard.

The only other data release penned for Friday is Consumer Credit, at 3:00, which is expected to show credit falling by $7.0 in April, following a print of -$11.1 billion in March.