Labour Force data is a bet each way for the RBA’s response

Following the RBA’s acknowledgement earlier this month that they would be careful watching employment data in coming months before making a determination about any future rate cut, today’s release of April’s data will have done little to clarify matters one way or the other.

On the downside the headline (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate moved up to 5.2% (and March was revised up to 5.1%) while the Trend measure remained at 5.1% (after March was also revised up). However,on the other side of the coin, this comes on the back of stronger than expected employment growth (+28,400 s.a. and +20,700 Trend) and a move upwards in participation to a new record high at 65.8 (actually 65.847).

Trend employment annual growth now sits at 2.48% (up from 2.45% in March which was revised up from 2.39%).

In Queensland unemployment rates moved down (s.a. down to 5.9% and Trend also down to 5.9%) while employment grew by 5,400 (s.a.) or 5,200 (Trend) with both measures seeing upwards revisions in the March data. Participation, however, fell to 65.5. Trend employment annual growth edged higher to 1.63% after March was revised up to 1.49%.

Full time employment in Queensland had been running strongly in recent months but that growth has eased and is now at +2.4% for the past 12 months.

One of our favourite indicators is hours worked across all jobs per capita of the working age population. This indicator ‘sees through’ issues with participation rates and the full/part time mix of employment. When considering this measure we see that Australia has been on a solid upward trend for some months and April sees another increase to 86.94 hours (an 82 month high). Queensland has fared less well despite a small up-tick this month.

Next Thursday will see the ABS release their original regional labour force data at which time will be updating our Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment Trend data for QLD and NSW.

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