How to read unemployment data for informed trading decisions

Key insights for informed trading decisions

By Nadia Elbilassy | @Nadia Elbilassy | 29 May 2023

How to read unemployment data
  • A lagging indicator of the overall health of the economy

  • This practice falls under the realm of fundamental analysis

  • It provides insights into the state of the labour market

What is Unemployment data?

Unemployment data refers to information and statistics that measure the number and characteristics of individuals who are without a job but actively seeking employment. It provides insights into the state of the labour market, indicating the level of job loss within a specific population or geographical area.

Unemployment data is important for traders because it provides insights into the overall economic health, influences market sentiment, affects monetary policy decisions, impacts specific sectors and industries, influences consumer spending patterns, and triggers market volatility.

Traders who stay informed about unemployment data can make more informed investment decisions and adapt their strategies to changing market conditions. This practice falls under the realm of fundamental analysis, where traders analyse economic indicators to gain insights into the broader market dynamics.

Unemployment data and trading decisions

High unemployment rates: may suggest economic weakness, reduced consumer spending, and lower corporate profits. Hence increasing investment focus in precious metals and safe havens.

Low unemployment rates: can indicate a robust economy, increased consumer spending, and potential wage inflation. Hence increasing investment focus in high cap or growing businesses and equities.

Monetary policy decisions: Central banks closely monitor unemployment data as part of their decision-making process for setting interest rates. High unemployment rates may prompt central banks to adopt accommodative monetary policies, such as lowering interest rates, to stimulate economic growth.

This can impact currency valuations, bond yields, and stock market performance.


Unemployment data typically includes metrics such as the unemployment rate, labor force participation rate, duration of unemployment, and demographic breakdowns.

These data points help policymakers, economists, researchers, and the general public understand the health of the economy, identify employment trends, and assess the effectiveness of labor market policies and interventions.

It can provide insight to the below;

  • Market sentiment and risk appetite
  • Industry and sector analysis
  • Monetary policy and interest rates
  • Consumer spending and company earnings
  • Economic growth and GDP

A lagging indicator

It is compiled and reported after a certain period, typically on a monthly or quarterly basis, by government statistical agencies. It takes time for this data to be collected, processed, and analyzed, which means that by the time unemployment figures are released, they reflect the employment situation that existed in the past.