The October Labour Force survey data beat most expectations on the upside with an additional 178,800 employed for the month. This takes the annual rate of jobs loss to just 1.0%. With a strong pick-up in participation (from 64.9 to 65.8) we also see the headline unemployment rate lift to 7.0%, after Sept was left unrevised at 6.9%.
In Queensland we saw another rise in employment (the fifth consecutive month) with 25,300 added. Here too a large jump in participation to its highest level since Sept last year (66.6) caused a small move higher in the headline unemployment rate from a revised 7.6% in Sept to 7.7% now. However, this spike in participation is masking the better performance of the State’s labour market which is now registering positive employment growth for the year (+0.9%).
The JobKeeper scheme is still distorting the labour market (although these latest numbers reflect the first data since its partial wind-back started at the end of Sept). We can clearly see the distortion when we consider the hours worked per capita data when compared to employment levels. At the national level, while employment has shrunk just 1.0% over the year, we see that the average hours worked per capita is still down 4.4% (despite a healthy rise this month). In Queensland while employment is now very slightly up for the year, hours worked remains down 1.9%. Nevertheless, we continue to see the better health outcomes in QLD being reflected in stronger labour market results; although one must look through the surge in participation to see them.