Today’s data for the December labour force is a strong set for Australia with employment up another 34,700 (sa), or +25,000 (Trend), after the very strong data for November was revised up slightly. The market had been looking for an increase around the 15,000 level.
However, an increase in participation saw the employment improvement coupled with a small tick-up in the headline unemployment rate (from 5.4% to 5.5%), but a slight tick-down in the Trend rate (from 5.5% to 5.4%)…so let’s call that no change.
Over the year we’ve seen a total of 393,400 increase to employment (Trend) with a thumping 321,600 of those positions being full-time (or an impressive 81.7%). Employment growth now sits at 3.3% y/y (a level not seen in more than 12 years).
Unfortunately, despite a nation leading employment growth rate of 4.6% y/y, the picture in Queensland is less rosy. Employment rose just 3,600 in December which is the weakest growth since Nov 2016 and the Trend unemployment rate remains at 5.9% (after Nov was revised up from 5.8%). Unlike at the national level, participation didn’t move higher, and November’s number was actually revised slightly lower. On the positive side full-time employment was up 7,300 in December and is up 73,400 for the year. However, this equates to just 67.4% of the total increase in employment (108,900) which is well below the rate nationwide. As the chart below demonstrates, the surge in employment has slowed markedly in recent months, although the string of 14 consecutive months of employment growth is the best since the GFC. As the lower data from the end of 2016 and early 2017 starts to drop out of the y/y calculations in coming months expect to see QLD’s impressive employment growth rate slide quickly (unless we see a return to some strong monthly numbers in early 2018).
The ABS regional labour force data will be released next week at which time we shall be updating the Conus Trend data series.