February unemployment inched up to 3.3 percent from 3.2 percent in January. Expectations were that the unemployment rate would remain 3.2 percent. Employment was up 290,000 from a year ago after jumping 900,000 in January. The labour force participation rate was 59.3, up 0.2 percent from a year ago.
The job-to-applicant ratio stayed flat last month at 1.28, its highest level since December 1991. Analysts have anticipated that the high level of job availability means the unemployment rate could still decline over coming months.
The unemployment rate measures the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labor force.
The unemployment rate and employment change are carefully monitored. The employment data show the number employment along with the change in employment for the previous year. Monthly changes in employment also help clarify whether businesses are hiring. The unemployment rate is the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed. A lower jobless rate translates into more income earning workers and greater consumption. Increased spending is a positive for consumer oriented economic growth, something that has lagged in Japan.
By tracking the jobs data, investors can sense the degree of tightness in the job market. If wage inflation threatens, it's a good bet that interest rates will rise; bond and stock prices will fall. No doubt that the only investors in a good mood will be the ones who watched the employment report and adjusted their portfolios to anticipate these events.
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