Unadjusted joblessness fell 4,782 or 3.4 percent on the month to 136,349 in May. This reduced the unemployment rate by a further 0.1 percentage points to 3.2 percent, its lowest mark since last November although this was still a couple of ticks above its level in May 2014.
More significantly, seasonally adjusted the number of people out of work increased a monthly 1,649 or 1.2 percent to 142,539 as the adjusted jobless rate remained unchanged at the 3.3 percent reading to which it climbed in April.
Moreover, the prospect of better news in the pipeline was not boosted by a 1.3 percent seasonally adjusted monthly drop in vacancies which now show a 24.5 percent slump versus the same period a year ago.
There are no real surprises in today's report which confirms that the labour market is still struggling in the wake of the contraction in first quarter real GDP. Indeed, the PMI survey suggested that there is worse to come in May with its employment sub-index sliding to just 40.7, its weakest level since the financial crisis in 2009.
The unemployment rate measures the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labor force. The monthly report provides both raw and seasonally adjusted data; the latter are the more important for identifying short-term trends.
Like the employment data, unemployment data help to gauge the current state as well as the future direction of the economy. Employment data are categorized by sectors. This sector data can go a long way in helping investors determine in which economic sectors they intend to invest.
By tracking the jobs data, investors can sense the degree of tightness in the job market. If employment is tight it is a good bet that interest rates will rise and bond and stock prices will fall. In contrast, when job growth is slow or negative, then interest rates are likely to decline - boosting up bond and stock prices in the process.
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