Unemployment steady at 6.2% but QLD tanks

Today’s release of the October labour force data comes after the revisions foreshadowed by the ABS earlier this week (see here) and sees the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate steady at 6.2% (after Sept was revised up from 6.1%). Employment grew by 24,100 which almost exactly cancelled out the 23,700 decline in Sept. All the gains (and more) came from full-time employment which rose 33,400 (after falling 34,900 last month). The Participation Rate managed to nudge slightly higher, from 64.5 to 64.6 while the employment to working population ratio remained steady at 60.5.

However, given the recent problems with the ABS seasonal adjustment, many will be taking a long hard look at the Trend data; and this is worrying. Trend employment grew by just 1,300 in October which puts annual employment growth for the past year at just 1.0%. With the labour market seeing such scant growth it will be very hard for us to see any significant decline in the unemployment rate; a point made by the RBA earlier this week when they left the Cash Rate unchanged at 2.5%.

In Queensland the data is an absolute shocker. Seasonally adjusted employment fell by 8,900 (the fourth consecutive monthly fall), unemployment rose by 7,600 to a new record high. The unemployment rate has leaped to 7.0% (its highest in over 11 years). On a seasonally adjusted basis QLD now tops the list of States’ unemployment rates, even besting Tasmania at 6.9%. If we’re looking for positives from the seasonally adjusted data then the Participation Rate increase to 65.5 and the fact that full-time employment grew by 11,800 (breaking a string of 4 months of declines) might count.

When we shift our attention to the Trend data things are just as bad. The Trend unemployment rate remains stable at 6.7% but Trend PR has fallen to 65.5 and the Trend employment to working population ratio also fell to just 61.1 (its lowest level in more than a decade). Of particular concern is the fact that Trend employment has fallen for the fifth consecutive month and annual growth now sits at just 0.4%.  These are not the numbers that a LNP government about to move into an election phase will want to see.

Regional jobs data will be released next Thursday.

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