Jobs growth bucks national trend
The worst may be over for WA’s jobs crisis with the State’s unemployment rate falling in December from a 15-year high the previous month.
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed WA’s unemployment rate fell to 6.6 per cent in December on a seasonally adjusted basis from 6.9 per cent in November. It was the biggest fall in unemployment recorded of any State in Australia and came against a backdrop of a rising national jobless rate.
The improved result may reflect rebounding commodity prices, particularly iron ore, providing increased confidence, flowing through to the labour market.
Commsec senior economist Savanth Sebastian said the strength in commodity prices was a positive and should support an improvement in employment across the resource States in the coming months.
He noted that job vacancies nationally were holding near fiveyear highs and anecdotal evidence suggested activity levels in the business sector were lifting.
“It is still early days, but the last three months are certainly more upbeat,” he said. Nationally, the unemployment rate rose to 5.8 per cent in December, missing expectations of it staying at 5.7 per cent.
The total number of people with jobs Australia-wide rose by 13,500 in the month, with the market forecasting a rise of 12,000.
Full-time employment rose by 9300 jobs, while the number of part-time jobs was up by 4200.
The participation rate, which refers to the number of people either employed or actively looking for work, was up at 64.7 per cent in December from 64.6 in November.
For the 2016 calendar year, a total of 91,500 jobs were added — the weakest result since 2013.
Both CommSec and ANZ said today’s unemployment data was unlikely to change interest rate settings.