The number of people out of work fell a largely seasonal 4,657 or 2.8 percent on the month to 159,809 in February. This saw the jobless rate edge a tick lower to 3.6 percent, matching its level a year ago. More usefully, seasonally adjusted unemployment was down 946 or 0.6 percent at 147,285. However, this was a small enough decline to leave the adjusted jobless rate steady at 3.3 percent.
More optimistically, adjusted vacancies were up 0.3 percent versus January at 11,694 and, unadjusted, posted growth of 13.1 percent from February 2016.
The labour market has been moving essentially sideways for more than a year now. That said, the last few months have seen a net fall in unemployment and it may be that conditions are starting to improve, albeit only slowly.
The unemployment rate measures the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labour force. Both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted monthly data are provided.
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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