Strong jobs sees UR fall; QLD also looks better

After the surprise strength of last month’s jobs data, the markets were bracing for a disappointing set of jobs numbers this morning for the March data. In fact the result has once again surprised on the up-side with jobs up 18,100 (expectations had been for +2-7,000) and the headline unemployment rate falling to 5.8% (expectations had been for a rise to 6.1%). The strong jobs growth seen in Feb was revised up slightly (to +48,200 from +47,300) although last month’s unemployment rate was also revised up to 6.1% (from 6%).
Last month saw a huge spike in full-time positions (+80,000) so it should come as no surprise that some of that was lost this month; full-time jobs fell 22,100. The Participation Rate also fell (to 64.7) after last month’s gain and this helped push the unemployment rate down so sharply. Worth noting, however, that the emp/pop ratio  (which is unaffected by the Participation Rate) was up to its highest level this year. The Trend data supports the stronger tone with positive revisions to past months meaning the addition of 42,800 to Trend employment so far this year.
These are (once again) unambiguously positive numbers and the markets have responded as such. The A$ has rallied about US 0.5 cents.
As we noted last month, the jobs data in QLD has been somewhat weaker than nationally, particularly with regard to full-time jobs. That story changes somewhat in March. Although full-time positions fell another 1,900 (and the increase in Feb was revised slightly down), compared to the country as a whole QLD’s performance over the past 12 months more than stacks up. QLD added 12,100 jobs in March which means 61,000 more in work that at this time last year; 17,400 of those are full-time positions. That equates to 28.5% of all new jobs in QLD over the past 12 months being full-time; nationally that ratio is just 19.2%. The headline unemployment rate fell to 6.1% (from 6.2%) which is impressive given the fact that the Participation Rate increased to 66.3 (from 66.1). Participation is now at its highest level since Jan 2013. The emp/pop ratio was up strongly to 62.3 (also its highest since Jan 2013). The Trend data shows 4,200 new jobs but the unemployment rate stable at 6.1%. As is the case nationally, these are positive numbers for QLD. If we’re looking for weakness, the fact that 19,500 full-time jobs have been lost in the past 6 months can be highlighted by the Opposition. However, the Government can point to 61,000 new jobs in the past 12 months (with a higher than national %age of those being full-time) and a rising Participation Rate which should augur well for future numbers.

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