The Australian jobs market has defied cooling economic conditions, with the unemployment rate edging down to 5 per cent in December.
- Unemployment edges down to 5pc, its lowest level since June 2011
- Part-time employment growth outpaced full time jobs, which fell by 3,000 over December.
- Victoria has the lowest unemployment rate at 4.2pc while WA has the highest at 6.3pc
A better than expected 21,600 new jobs were created, although the bulk of these were part-time positions with 3,000 full-time jobs being shed over the month.
The unemployment rate was also help by a marginal slide in the proportion of people looking for work, although participation rates still remain high by historical standards.
In seasonally adjusted terms, it is the equal lowest level of unemployment since June 2011.
“Over the past year, trend employment increased by 284,100 persons [2.3 per cent], which was above the average annual growth over the past 20 years [2 per cent],” the Australian Bureau of Statistics release noted.
Measures of spare capacity in the jobs market — underemployment and underutilisation — also edged down.
IFM economist Alex Joiner said, while the data was “relatively solid”, it was unlikely to move the dial to increase wage growth.
“Labour market continued to track well to end 2018, but the spare capacity issue is unresolved and it remains difficult to envisage materially stronger wage growth in this environment — combined with other factors this will likely see further tepid inflation data next week,” Dr Joiner noted.
Callam Pickering, Asia-Pacific economist for the global job website Indeed, said the data appears increasingly at odds with other economic indicators, whether that be house prices, inflation or even economic growth more generally.
“Softer economic conditions, including falling property prices, suggest that employment growth will ease somewhat in 2019,” Mr Pickering said.
“It will certainly be difficult to replicate the 2018 outcomes and, if that is the case, then stronger wage growth will remain elusive.”
Victoria leads jobs boom, WA lags
Queensland employers were the most active hirers, putting on almost 12,000 workers, while Victoria also reported strong jobs growth.
Elsewhere was fairly flat, except Western Australia where 15,300 jobs were shed.
Victoria now leads the nation in terms of the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 4.2 per cent, slipping past New South Wales, which held steady at 4.3 per cent.
Western Australia has the highest jobless rate at 6.3 per cent. Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.
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