Once again the Labour Force data has surprised on the upside in November. While consensus expectations were around an increase in employment of 40,000 (our own projection was somewhat higher at 66,000…see here for details) the official figure showed a jump of 90,000 (almost all of which were in full-time positions). Employment now sits less than 140,000 below the pre-COVID highs; a stellar result considering expectations earlier this year.
With the participation rate again lifting (to 66.1, and now higher than it was in March) the fall in the unemployment rate was limited to just 0.2 ppts; unemployment now sits at 6.8%.
Employment is now down just 0.6% for the year and down 1.1% since March. However, given the reality of many working shorter (or no) hours, the hours worked per capita data shows a somewhat more realistic picture. Here we see a decline of 1.8% since March.
Despite the national strength, that will have been heavily supported by Victoria emerging from lock-down, the figures in Queensland were somewhat less bullish. Employment fell 20,400 (although the vast bulk of these were part-time positions) and the participation rate also dropped by 0.6 ppts, albeit from a very high level in October. PR in Queensland still remains well above its pre-COVID levels and this is ensuring that the unemployment rate is resistant to falls. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Queensland remained unchanged at 7.7%.
Employment in the Sunshine State is now down 0.4% from a year earlier and down 0.8% since March. Although this is a better result than the national average we should note that Queensland started from a weaker position anyway.
As is the case nationally, the hours worked per capita data provides a rather more realistic picture. Hours worked per capita edged higher again in November and now sit just 0.2% below the pre-COVID level.