The labour market improved slightly in November. Unadjusted joblessness was up a sizeable 4,697 or 3.2 percent at 149,228 but this was essentially attributable to seasonal factors. Seasonally adjusted, the number of people out of work actually dropped 930 or 0.6 percent to 148,153. Both measures of the unemployment rate were 3.3 percent, in line with expectations.
There was also better news on job prospects with adjusted vacancies rising 1.8 percent on the month to stand an unadjusted 14.3 percent above their level a year ago.
Today's report is consistent with the November PMI which also found a net increase in employment. However, the improvement will need to be sustained if it is to feed through into consumer confidence and, ultimately, household spending. That said, fourth quarter GDP is starting to shape up quite well after disappointingly weak zero growth in the previous period.
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.