The number of job seekers declined in February to 355,000. The unemployment rate moved down to 5.9%. This was in-line with our estimates. The reduction in the number of job seekers reflects the fading out of year-end seasonal effects, where the unemployment rate temporarily moves up in relation to layoffs and job changes. In addition, warmer winter means there are almost no limits for construction work.
The economy continued to grow strongly in 4Q, which also means that new jobs were created. The number of posted job openings exceeded 150,000 in February, which leaves room for another decrease in the unemployment rate. This growth trend could last for another 6 months, at which time a lower economic growth rate should become more visible and should limit the creation of new job opportunities. We are expecting to see an unemployment rate leveling the range of 6% at the end of 2008.