Unemployment rate stable but hours worked shows where the weakness is. Strong month for QLD

The Labour Force Survey data from the ABS for January shows an additional 12,900 people employed (although full-0time positions dropped 17,000) and a participation rate that edged slightly higher. As a result the headline unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.2%. Annual employment growth dipped slightly to 2.8% (from 2.9%)

However, a sharp decline in total hours worked saw our measure of hours worked per capita decline to its lowest level in 20 months. Behind this drop in hours worked was a sharp move higher in those counted as employed but who worked zero-hours for economic reasons (up to a 4 month high). As the Omicron surge took hold we also saw a very large impact from those working zero-hours because of illness.

In Queensland employment was up 17,400 (of which 6,200 were full-time), participation also increased, and the headline unemployment rate dropped to 4.4% (which is its lowest level since December 2008). However, here too we saw hours worked per capita fall (although only to a 6-month low). Full-time employment in Queensland is now at a new record high. Annual employment growth in QLD improved to 3.8% (from 3.5%)

When we adjust the headline unemployment rate to account for those working zero hours for economic reasons we see that the ‘effective’ unemployment rate in Australia and Queensland are both at 4.9%.

There has been a long-term shift in participation rates across the sexes and in Queensland that has now translated to a new record high participation rate for females.

Next week will see the release of the original regional labour force data from the ABS at which time we will be updating our Conus/CBC Staff Selection Trend and s.a. series for the SA4 region of Queensland.


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