Unemployment edges higher as more people look for work
The unemployment rate has edged up to 5.1 per cent, despite the creation of more than 37,000 jobs last month.
- The more stable trend unemployment figure falls from 5.2 to a six-and-half-year low of 5.1 per cent
- The widely watched seasonally adjusted unemployment number rose from 5 to 5.1 per cent
- The ABS says 37,100 jobs were created in November, but they were dominated by part-time positions
Despite the better-than-expected addition of 37,100 jobs to the economy in November (most economists had been tipping around 20,000), the unemployment rate edged up to 5.1 per cent due to an increase in the proportion of the population in work or looking for it, known as the participation rate, which rose to 65.7 per cent.
The Bureau of Statistics estimates also showed that the increase in employment was in part-time work, where 43,400 new positions were added, while 6,400 full-time jobs were lost.
This showed up in the total monthly hours worked, which eased slightly despite an increase in the number of people employed.
It was also captured in the underemployment rate, which rose from 8.3 to 8.5 per cent last month — this figure measures people who are in work but would like, and are able to work, more hours.
The figures were close enough to expectations that the Australian dollar scarcely moved on the data, and was worth 71.16 US cents at 11:42am (AEDT).
ACT and NSW have lowest jobless rates, WA highest
The ACT had the nation’s lowest jobless rate at 3.4 per cent (in trend terms), which is not unusual given that many of its residents move there for work and leave when that work finishes.
New South Wales and Victoria continued to have the lowest jobless rates of the states, at 4.4 and 4.6 per cent respectively.
CommSec chief economist Craig James said the trend NSW jobless rate of 4.4 per cent is the lowest for that state on records that go back 40 years.
“There hasn’t been a lower jobless rate in that time,” Mr James wrote in a note.
“With more in work, the outlook for the NSW economy is bright.”
South Australia and Tasmania have had the biggest improvements in reducing their unemployment rates over recent years, with jobless figures of 5.3 and 5.8 per cent respectively.
However, the unemployment rates in the Northern Territory (5 per cent), Queensland (6.4 per cent) and Western Australia (6.5 per cent) continued to rise.
Mr James said the jobs market remained in “strong shape”, with the more stable trend unemployment rate easing from 5.2 to 5.1 per cent.
“In the latest month the seasonally adjusted results have been volatile, especially across the state results. So the trend is your friend,” he wrote in a note.
“The trend jobless rate is at six-and-a-half-year lows and the participation rate is at record highs. More people than ever are looking for jobs and finding work.”
While not all analysts were as positive as Mr James, the early consensus is that these were a firm set of jobs numbers.
“Given the solid rise in employment in November, we suspect that markets won’t price in further monetary policy easing [interest rate cuts] as a result of today’s data,” wrote Capital Economics analyst Marcel Theliant.
“But with labour market slack diminishing only slowly, a rapid pick-up in wage growth is not on the cards.”