The number of jobseekers grew to 365,000 and the unemployment rate edged up to 6.1% from 6.0% in December. The reasons for the increase are mainly the year-end seasonal effects. Adjusting for these effects, the unemployment rate actually declined.
The number of vacancies in January reached 146,000. There is a chance that we will see the unemployment rate slide under 6% in coming months as the seasonal effects fade out. We expect to see an average unemployment rate of 5.9% in 2008, which would compare to last year's average of 6.6%. The lower rate of new job creation, together with slowing economy growth, should cause the unemployment rate to stay close to the current level.