Unemployment and underutilisation rates both fall

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The Richmond region's unemployment rate stood at 3.5 percent in March, unchanged from February but down from 4 percent in March 2017, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Wednesday.

New Zealand's unemployment rate has fallen to 4.4% from 4.5%, marking the fifth consecutive quarter of reductions in the jobless figure.

"With a solid outlook for employment, we expect that capacity pressures within the existing labour market will gradually intensify, with the unemployment rate moving towards 4% by the end of next year", ASB said in a note on Monday.

The level of labour available, as measured by the seasonally adjusted underutilisation rate, has also dropped - from 12.2% in the December quarter to 11.9%.

This measure includes people who have a job but want to work more hours or are available to work but aren't looking, or are looking but aren't available to start within the next month.

People who were underemployed were those in part-time employment and wanted to and were available to work more hours. With fewer underemployed women, the underutilisation rate for women fell to 14.6 percent (from 15.2 percent) in the March 2018 quarter.

ASB senior economist Mark Smith said given the enhanced focus of the labour market in the new Reserve Bank Policy Targets Agreement with the Government, it was encouraging to see few signs of quarterly volatility in the household labour force survey.

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Among all metro areas, Ames, (Iowa) had the lowest unemployment rate at 1.7 percent.

For Māori, the unemployment rate fell to 9.6%, down from 10.4% a year ago while the underutilisation rate for Māori fell to 20.8%, down from 22.2% in the March 2017 quarter.

Year-over-year unemployment in the Washington metropolitan area dropped a tick in March, according to new federal figures, part of a continuing, but perhaps softening, trend toward lower joblessness nationwide.

The labour force participation rate fell to 70.8 percent in the latest quarter, down from 70.9 percent. The employment rate rose to 70% and the labour force participation rate rose to 73.5%. Women were at their highest-ever rate of employment (62.6 percent).

The metro-area total rose by 4,600 people, or 0.3 percent, between March 2016 and March 2017. Annually, employment increased 3.1 percent, which was also driven by women (up 3.7 percent) when compared with men (up 2.6 percent).

Almost a third of the growth came from the healthcare and social assistance, and the professional, scientific, technical, administrative, and support services sector.