Strong labour force data but QLD is underwhelming

Yesterday’s release of the June Labour Force data painted an unexpectedly bright picture for the nation. Seasonally adjusted employment jumped by 50,900 with 41,200 of those full-time positions. Despite the rise in employment the unemployment rate stayed stuck at 5.4% (Trend 5.4%) on the back of an encouraging move higher in participation. Over the year Australia has added 339,000 to the number employed (+317,800). However, Trend employment growth now sits at 2.6% which is its slowest pace since July 2017.

Where we believe we can really demonstrate the underlying strength at work is by considering the total hours worked per member of the working age population. This measure essentially sees-thru participation effects and the results of shifts between full-time and part-time employment. The chart below shows that we again sit at the highest level (86.5 hours/month, unchanged from last month) since May 2013. Clearly there is still a long way to go to reach the levels seen in the pre-GFC period, but the recovery in the past 18 months cannot be disputed.

Queensland’s results were rather less exciting. Seasonally adjusted employment was up by 14,800 (6,200 of which was full-time) but the Trend rose just 3,900 with full-time employment dropping for the fourth consecutive month by 1,700. Over the course of the year seasonally adjusted employment is up 83,900 (35,700 full-time) while the Trend has the increase at 62,700 (39,900 full-time) which means the rate of growth has fallen again to 2.6%, its slowest pace in a year.

Nevertheless, as the chart below demonstrates, Trend employment is just about keeping pace with growth of the working population and as a result we saw the Trend unemployment rate remain steady at 6.1% while the more volatile seasonally adjusted figure fell to 5.9% (from 6.2%).

Regional labour force data will be released next Thursday at which time we will be updating our Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment Trend data series for QLD and the Conus Regional Employment Trend for NSW.

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