The labour market was weaker than expected in August. Unadjusted unemployment rose 3,548 or 2.5 percent to stand at 142,858, some 4.3 percent higher on the year. As a result, the jobless rate climbed another tick to 3.2 percent. A part of the increase was attributable to seasonal factors but even adjusted for these the number of people out of work increased 533, or 0.4 percent. This similarly added 0.1 percentage points to the adjusted unemployment rate which now prints at surprisingly high 3.4 percent.
More optimistically, adjusted vacancies rose 0.6 percent on the month although this still left an unadjusted shortfall of nearly 1 percent versus August 2015.
Today's disappointing jobless figures give weight to the impression that the labour market may be entering a renewed downturn - indeed, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is now at its highest level since August 2010. Although the deterioration has been only gentle, it will do nothing to help boost confidence in the household sector where a slowdown in spending was a major factor undermining domestic demand last quarter.
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.