Jobs Data Marks Time As Fewer People Seek Work
Australia’s labour market marked time in May as the big surge in employment in 2017 continued to fade. Seasonally adjusted the unemployment rate fell to 5.4% in May from 5.6% in April, thanks to workers leaving the pool of people looking for work.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), employment rose by 12,000 in seasonally adjusted terms, short of market forecasts for an increase of 19,000.
April’s jobs increase — originally reported as a gain of 22,600 — was revised down to 18,400. On a trend basis, the jobless rate remained steady on 5.5% and 16,000 new jobs were created - most of them part time as full time job creation continued to slow. Hours worked also fell sharply on a seasonally adjusted basis, but rose on a trend basis.
At 12.5183 million, employment now stands at the highest level on record, seasonally adjusted.
Full-time employment fell 20,600 to 8,521,400 while part-time employment increased 32,600 to 3,996,900.
Reflecting that, the ABS said that total hours worked fell by a large 24.2 million hours, or 1.4% seasonally adjusted, to 1.7388 billion hours, reversing the strength seen in April. They rose 0.2% on a trend basis though.
The largest rise in employment was in Victoria at 22,100, followed by Queensland and NSW at 5,000 and 2,800 respectively.
The largest decline was seen in WA where employment dropped 1,900.
Over the past year, full-time employment increased by 178,800, slightly faster than the 125,100 lift in part-time employment over the same period. Combined, total employment increased by 303,900, continuing to slow from the levels seen throughout much of 2017.
The fall in the seasonally adjusted the unemployment rate reflected a dip in labour force participation rate which fell from an upwardly-revised 65.7% to 65.5%.
The size of Australia’s labour force — measuring those people in employment or activity looking for work — fell by 14,800 workers to 13.233 million.
The small rise in employment and drop in labour force participation saw the number of unemployed workers fall by 26,800 to 714,600 in May.
Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.
At the AFR he was a finance writer, Finance Editor, News Editor and Chief of Staff. At the Nine Network he was supervising producer of Business Sunday for more than 16 years. He has also written for other online and analogue print publications here and overseas.