Mixed bag from labour force data

The release of the Jan Labour Force data was something of a curate’s egg; good news came in the shape of a further increase in employment (up 16,000 seasonally adjusted and up 23,000 Trend) while the bad news was a decline in full-time positions (down 49,800 seasonally adjusted) and upward revisions to Dec’s unemployment rate (5.6% seasonally adjusted and 5.5% Trend). January’s unemployment rate was at 5.5% on both a seasonally adjusted and Trend basis.

Over the course of the past 12 months the economy has added 394,900 Trend jobs at an average pace of 32,900 per month. Employment growth now stands at 3.3% in January (unchanged from December).

In Queensland a sharp uptick in participation (on a seasonally adjusted basis, to levels not seen in 5 years) saw the unemployment rate lift despite continued employment growth. Trend jobs rose 3,700 (after December’s increase was revised higher) and are now up 110,400 for the past 12 months at an average pace of 9,200 per month. Queensland’s run of positive months of Trend jobs growth now stretches to 15 months. However, jobs growth, despite still sitting at 4.7% y/y, has slowed sharply in recent months.

Seasonally adjusted data showed 19,700 new jobs although these all came in the part-time sector with full-time employment dropping 6,700. The lift in participation (to 66.3 from 65.8) saw the headline (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate lift to 6.1% while the Trend rate also increased to 6.0%. However, as the second chart below shows, the increase in the number of people in work has lifted the hours worked per capita of working population in Queensland (for more discussion about this measure see our previous post here) to its highest level since April 2014.

Next week will see the release of the ABS regional labour force data at which time we shall be updating our own Conus Trend series.

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