Date: 08 Mar 2013, Politics and Current Affairs
Question setter: John Karslake

US Unemployment

Will the US unemployment rate announced on 8th March, be higher than the 7.9% rate announced for the previous month?


Answer: No
Confidence level: 70%
Mean confidence level (all requests): 70.00%

A Labor Department report tomorrow may show nonfarm payrolls rose by 163,000 last month, while the unemployment rate held at 7.9 percent. First-time jobless claims unexpectedly fell by 7,000 to 340,000 in the week ended March 2, the lowest since the period ended Jan. 19, according to data from the Labor Department in Washington. The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 355,000. The four-week average dropped to a five-year low.

Outcome: No
Score: 70
Mean score (all respondents): 70.00

Expert opinion:

Outcome: No

Comment on outcome from John Karslake:
The jobless rate dropped to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008, from 7.9 percent. An astonishing improvement to most commentators but much as I predicted. Employment rose 236,000 last month after a revised 119,000 gain in January that was smaller than first estimated, Labor Department figures showed. Hiring in construction jumped by the most in almost six years. Payrolls also climbed at retailers, and professional and business services such as temporary help firms. This should keep the gloomsters quiet for a while. Growth projections for the next few months will need to be revisited.
An improving labour market has enhanced the job-finding prospects of college seniors, who are now searching for post- graduation employment.