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Have unemployment rates increased or decreased in March?

There is some positive news for the US economy as unemployment claims are at their smallest for 52 years.

The US unemployment rate has fallen to below four percent, but many companies have continued to report challenges finding staff. Some 11.3 million jobs remained open in January, according to Labor Department figures.
Stefani ReynoldsAFP

Despite the turmoil in markets and commodities surrounding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the warning signs are yet to appear in US unemployment data. Recently released, it shows more than 678,000 jobs were created in the month of February, 200,000 more than the 467,000 added in January. Promisingly, the number of people receiving benefits fell to 1.419 million people, the lowest since 1970.

"The Russian invasion of Ukraine adds some uncertainty to the outlook as energy prices have spiked, and business and consumer sentiment has taken a hit," said Dante DeAntonio, a senior economist at Moody's Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. "However, we expect firms to mostly look beyond the near-term volatility, especially given the difficult hiring environment that remains."

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What are some of the other important unemployment figures?

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 214,000 for the week ending March 12. These are well down on the records set during the pandemic, where 6.149 million initial claims were seen in early April 2020.

Compared to the last six months, these initial claims are continuing to decrease. But that doesn't mean the large backlog of vacant jobs is being filled. There were 11.3 million job openings at the end of January, up from 10 million from three months prior. How this will be tackled is still unknown and the number is only rising.

The federal reserve announced its first interest rate rise in three years by 0.25 percent, in a move to tackle the inflation in the US economy.  In a press conference after the meeting announcing the change, Jay Powell, Fed chair, said the committee had raised rates “against the backdrop of an extremely tight labour market in high inflation” and that it “anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate”.

What this means for employment is that the high gains unemployment could slow down.


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