The number of unemployed persons fell by 7 thousand in March to 684 thousand.
Unemployment benefits amounted to 454 thousand in March, 6 thousand less than in February but 74 thousand more than in March of 2013. The monthly decrease was recorded mostly for people under the age of 25. The amount of unemployment benefits also declined among men, but remained almost stable among women, compared to February. The most dramatic reduction was found in sectors sensitive to seasonal variation, like agriculture and construction. In contrast, the number of benefits grew in the health care and welfare sector, where many women are employed.
In the first quarter of 2014, the unemployment rate average monthly increase was 5 thousand. At the same time, the employed labor force was reduced by 18 thousand on a monthly basis. As result, total workforce shrank by an average of 13 thousand people per month.
Unemployment rose mostly for women aged 25 years and older, due to job losses in health care and trade.