The labour market was soft in November. Unadjusted, the number of people out of work rose 6,874 or 4.9 percent to 148,154, enough to lift the jobless rate from 3.3 percent in October to 3.4 percent. This was the highest November rate since 2009 in the midst of the Great Recession. However, seasonally adjusted the increase was a much more modest 956 or 0.7 percent which kept the unemployment rate steady at October's 3.4 percent.
Seasonally adjusted vacancies were down only 1,000 on the month but still show a sizeable 10.2 percent contraction over the year.
Today's report provides further evidence of a slowdown in Swiss economic activity. Real GDP growth dried up last quarter after a surprisingly good April-June performance and the signs are that total output will again struggle to keep its head above water in the current period. Tomorrow's SNB policy announcement is likely to be a downbeat affair and there is at least a sizeable minority of market players anticipating another ease.
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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