Slow­ing em­ploy­ment

Townsville Bulletin - - Investor -

UN­EM­PLOY­MENT r e mained low in Fe­bru­ary, but the lat­est labour force fig­ures ap­pear to con­firm the trend in em­ploy­ment growth has slowed markedly.

The un­em­ploy­ment rate stayed at 5.0 per cent, ac­cord­ing to the sea­son­ally ad­justed es­ti­mates re­leased by the Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics ( ABS) yes­ter­day.

How­ever, the num­ber of peo­ple with jobs fell by 10,100, or 0.1 per cent, leav­ing a net loss of em­ploy­ment of 2200 since the 54,200 surge re­ported for Novem­ber.

The bu­reau’s es­ti­mate of the trend in em­ploy­ment has now slowed to 9100 per month in Fe­bru­ary from a re­cent peak of 38,000 just six months ear­lier.

The ac­com­pa­ny­ing es­ti­mates of ag­gre­gate hours worked told a sim­i­lar story. There was a 1.1 per cent rise in Fe­bru­ary, fol­low­ing no change in Novem­ber and falls - most likely flood-af­fected - of 0.2 per cent in De­cem­ber and 0.8 per cent in Jan­uary.

As a re­sult, the num­ber of hours worked in Fe­bru­ary was only marginally above the Oc­to­ber to­tal and the es­ti­mated trend is now flat, a marked changed from the an­nu­alised trend growth rate of four per cent in the mid­dle of 2010.

The sea­son­ally ad­justed fall in em­ploy­ment in Fe­bru­ary was off­set by a drop in the recorded rate of par­tic­i­pa­tion in the labour force, to 65.7 per cent of the work­ing-age pop­u­la­tion from 65.8 per cent in Jan­uary. There was also a big rise in full-time em­ploy­ment ( 47,600) as part-time em­ploy­ment fell even more sharply ( 57,700), al­though such short term swings are gen­er­ally not help­ful in as­sess­ing un­der­ly­ing trends - they are more likely to be the ef­fect of ir­reg­u­lar sea­sonal fluc­tu­a­tions not caught by the ad­just­ment process.

The em­ploy­ment fig­ures add to the al­ready-strong case for the Re­serve Bank of Aus­tralia to put any thoughts of a near-term in­ter­est rate rise on ice.

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