The labour market was surprisingly firm in September. Unadjusted unemployment fell 183 or 0.1 percent to 142,675 although this was still 3.2 percent above its level a year ago. The jobless rate was steady at 3.2 percent. More significantly, seasonally adjusted the number of people out of work was down 109, a 0.1 percent dip versus the previous month. This similarly left the unemployment rate unchanged at 3.3 percent but this followed a 0.1 percentage point negative revision to the August outturn.
There was also some slightly better news on vacancies which were up an adjusted 60 (0.6 percent) versus August but this still left them 211 (2.7 percent) below their level a year ago.
Overall the September data suggest that the labour market may be holding up a little better than previously thought. Even so, near-term there are still downside risks with signs that economic growth has all but dried up on the back of sluggish domestic demand.
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.