Labour Force data…something for everyone

Today’s June Labour Force data has provided something for everyone…and a big surprise for most.

Expectations had been for employment to improve by about 100K in June with the unemployment rate either going up slightly, staying stable, or moving down slightly depending upon what you thought participation was going to be. We had projected employment up 98.7K and the unemployment rate falling very slightly on the back of only a modest move up in participation.

The actual result showed a 210,800 upward surge in employment (albeit after May’s figure was revised down by about 37,000). Not only did employment rally higher than expected, the participation rate bounced spectacularly (up from 62.7 to 64.0) which saw the unemployment rate up at 7.4%. Not only were new people employed but the hours worked per capita number also rose sharply from 76.90 hrs to 79.95 hrs suggesting those already in work were doing more hours as the various state lock-downs started to ease.

In Queensland we had been expecting employment to improve by 31,000; as it happened the increase was 52,900 (although May was revised down by 37,000) and we also saw a solid increase in participation (from 61.6 to 62.9) which meant the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%.

Hours worked in the Sunshine State also increased sharply up from 76.42 hrs to 78.67 hrs.

The bounce in employment at both national and State level was all down to part-time positions with full-time employment continuing to decline. The pandemic has so far wiped-out three years of full-time employment growth in Queensland.

These large swings in participation are causing havoc with unemployment rate forecasts and until such time as things settle into a more ‘normal’ pattern we can expect to see widely variant projections, particularly at the State level where volatility is naturally more present anyway.

The ABS will release their original regional Labour Force data next week at which time we will be updating the Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment Trend data series.


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