Softer jobs growth sees unemployment rate static. Hours worked suggests the froth is coming off.

The March Labour Force data released this morning by the ABS showed seasonally adjusted employment was up just 4,900 (expectations had centred around +20,000) with a large revision to Feb data seeing all of those month’s gains wiped out. Over the course of the year employment is up 367,00 which equates to a rate of 3.0% (Trend +3.1%). Full time employment reversed it’s gains from Feb and fell 19,900. With the participation rate edging slightly lower to 65.5  the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained stable at 5.5%, although the Trend edged higher to 5.6% (from 5.5%).

Queensland’s data was equally unimpressive with employment dropping 1,600 (the second consecutive month of declines) with the falls all coming from full time employment which was down 7,200. Over the past 12 months employment is up 91,800 (or 3.8%) with full time accounting for more than 69% of those increases and growing at 3.9% y/y. With the participation rate dropping to 66.0 (from 66.2) we saw the unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) decline to 6.0% (from 6.2%). Trend data showed a 3,200 increase in employment (the smallest increase since Nov 2016) which is a growth rate of 4.3%.

When we consider the Conus Trend Hours worked:Working Population measure we see a continuation of the weakening of the past few months suggesting that the froth has certainly come off the labour market. Hours worked per person in the working population dropped to 86.1 in Australia and 87.9 in Queensland. These equate to annual rates of growth of just 1.1% in Australia and 2.2% in Queensland; the amount of work being done is certainly not keeping pace with the rather more dramatic looking increases in total employment levels.

Conus Trend Regional Employment data for QLD and NSW will be out next week.

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