Australian unemployment in detail

ScreenHunter_01 Oct. 23 08.38

By Leith van Onselen

As summarised earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today released labour force data for the month of February, which registered a 0.05% increase in the headline unemployment rate to 6.05% – the highest rate in a decade. The result was broadly in line with analyst’s expectations that unemployment would remain steady at 6%.

However, total employment increased by a seasonally adjusted 47,300 jobs, with full-time jobs rising by 80,500 to 8,049,900 offset by a 33,300 decrease in part-time employment to 3,480,900. That said, aggregate monthly hours worked fell by 14.0 million hours (0.9%) to 1,608.9 million hours.

The participation rate rose by 0.2% to 64.8%, which more than offset the reported increase in jobs.

ScreenHunter_1634 Mar. 13 11.45

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After nearly a year of stagnation, total employment has risen strongly (see next chart).

ScreenHunter_1636 Mar. 13 11.47

The bounce-back in full-time jobs is encouraging (up 0.5% over the year in seasonally-adjusted terms), it’s too early to pop the champagne corks, with growth still negative in trend terms:

ScreenHunter_1638 Mar. 13 11.50

Four of the five mainland states added jobs over the year, although overall jobs growth was soft (see next chart).

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And the Southern States continue to have the highest unemployment rates (see next chart).

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The state seasonally-adjusted figures are notoriously volatile and subject to a big margin of error. As such, the below chart shows the ABS’ trend unemployment rates, which shows Western Australia with the lowest unemployment (but rising), Tasmania and South Australia with the highest, and Victorian unemployment also rising:

ScreenHunter_1639 Mar. 13 12.03

A negative from this release is that the aggregate number of hours worked fell by 0.9% in February and was up just 0.6% over the year:

ScreenHunter_1642 Mar. 13 12.12

The below chart, which tracks the changes in hours worked on a trend basis, shows a mixed bag across the states:

ScreenHunter_1643 Mar. 13 12.13

The employment-to-population ratio and the participation rate showed some moderate improvement in seasonally-adjusted terms (up 0.1% and 0.2% respectively), although both remained at around 9 and 7 year lows respectively in trend terms (see next chart).

ScreenHunter_1644 Mar. 13 12.15

The below chart summarises the annual change in the key employment aggregates:

ScreenHunter_1645 Mar. 13 12.20

Finally, the ABS released its quarterly estimate of labour underutilisation, which remained at 13.5% – the highest level since May 1999 – suggesting significant slack remains in the labour force:

ScreenHunter_1646 Mar. 13 12.22

Overall, this is a mixed release. Despite the small increase in the headline unemployment rate, there was a strong rise in jobs, although this was partly offset by a reduction in aggregate hours worked. Obviously, the Australian labour market remains soft, with jobs growth still below the level required to absorb population growth.

We should also be cautious when a large rise in employment coincides with a significant jump in the participation rate, as has occurred this month. A similar result was reported this time last year, which ended up being driven by a rotation of the ABS sample. That is, new households entering the survey for the first time could have been more attached to the labour force than existing participants in the survey and so boosted both the level of employment and participation.

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16 Responses to “ “Australian unemployment in detail”

  1. drcole says:

    Wow, WA unemployment rate eclipses NSW.

    Up we go!

  2. Dr Fixit says:

    There does seem to be a significant increase in the availability of rental properties in Perth and rental prices appear to be going down.

    I wonder how many “negatively geared investors” (funny concept taking losses on property) are having trouble finding tenants and are buring through cash. It is certainly looking like the boom is well and truly over for Perth so what next?

    • pungame99 says:

      Perth Property boom is still on…. n will continue forever – that’s what people in Perth say.

      I saw a house last month in Willetton offers from $619K and under offer on 1st day sold for $660K.

      People have made lots of money in property and they don’t want to believe that property can go down even if mining boom is finished.

  3. Wing Nut says:

    What’s the go with the near 40k jobs created in Qld? Return of the white shoe brigade?

  4. The Lorax says:

    Obviously, the Australian labour market remains soft…

    Obviously?! It isn’t obvious to The Kouk:

    It was always going to happen – the pace of economic growth was certainly strong enough to be generating jobs – it was just the lag between a stronger economy and more jobs that was in question.

    a clear turn in the labour market, as evident in today’s data, suggest the RBA will get smart and will start a rate hiking cycle in the next few months


    Stephen Koukoulas ‏@TheKouk 1h
    Aside from the bleeding obvious fall in mining investment, all else now strong, very strong or rampageingly strong in the economy

    Get with the program guys. Employment is a lagging indicator and its just catching up. Apart from the mining investment bust (that you keep banging on about) this economy is booming.

  5. HealthyInvestor says:

    Good ole WA. Note unemployment acceleration is the same as the gfc… I’ve been to 5 auctions in the last 2 weeks every one was passed in. Insaneeeeeee. Rentals are popping up everywhere and houses as well. People are moving out because they know without mining Perth has nothing going for it. Have you walked into Fremantle recently… What a dump. They wasted a 20 year mining boom. Instead of doing something to improve the community and environment they just locked it all down. Now they have 20% youth unemployment and are ranked lower than the lowest socioeconomic suburbs in Perth somehow haha. Assaults, rape, theft. Worst council in Australia. Thankfully Father Time will kill them off and in a couple of decades they will have fresh blood.

    • simon89 says:

      Lol i live in Fremantle. It is a dump courtesy of a green/labour government. Mind you property prices are going thru the roof :/ especially in sth freo.

      Western Australia is losing steam and I’ll be surprised if we don’t start to hear about a state exodus. This is why WA argued so hard for more GST so it could build itself up more whilst times were good.

      • HealthyInvestor says:

        The state government put forward a proposal to dissolve Fremantle because they are trying to get rid of the corrupt labour/greens council who’ve turned it into the wreck it is today over the last 30 years. It would have seen the area get sucked up by Melville, East Freo and Cockburn. It would have been GREAT! Finally young blood. Alas Fremantle objected and instead proposed a ‘merger’ that would see it absorb only the ‘rich’ labour/green suburbs haha. Fremantle council are without doubt the worst council in Australia.

        The prices are based on pure speculation. When you look at the zoning, the industry, the employment rates, the age its all a bad combination which throws up ‘red flags’ for any investor.

        We got briefed on a plan by Fremantle council, because they couldn’t get the ‘knox’ apartment development off the ground they were forced to buy 20% of the units so the developer had the money to get it off the ground and release the development entirely instead of in stages. Those units have all been assigned ‘department of housing’ (public housing). They have assigned them to the south side of the building ground floor internal units. Its a nightmare about to happen. To meet the minimum required ‘affordable’ housing fremantle council is planning apartment complex’s and is trying to squeeze more than the average 5% state housing into them so it keeps them all away the central and south ends the more ‘affluent’ areas. Its shocking just how corrupt and useless they are. I’ve never had to deal with a more frustrating idiotic bias uninformed group of people who simply are in power to maintain their status quo. On top of creating ‘ghettos’ which is EXTREMELY bad. They found the heritage law and instead of using it to protect actual heritage sites they have been throwing it up on their own houses! Its INSANE how corrupt they are.

        I for one cant wait until they all die of old age. Population drives business, development prices and infrastructure. Basically people make a suburb.
        Fremantle population

        1971 – 26, 036
        2011 – 26, 582

        … in 40 years 500 people. Thats a population increase of 1.0005 (.05%) every year… natural population growth is 1.016 (1.6%) for Australia. Fremantle is actually LOSING people its shrinking! extremely bad investment. Its population SHOULD be 49,000 to justify prices we saw. But they don’t = stay the hell away. Even if you only take the last 10 years its growth is still way way way below average 1.008 (.8%…) . The older a population gets the less money it has to spend. Peak spending age is around 45 but the population there is either in their 60+ or they are young and unemployed = no money for rates = no money for anything = no justification for prices. A lot of people are going to get stung with by freo town council again and it will just make it even more undesirable. The population increase of late has all been at the outer suburbs and not in Fremantle city itself which is even worse.

        Anyhow thats my two cents.

        The latest approach we are taking is to force the town council out by increasing its population base by more than double what it has from affluent liberal suburbs to the north and east that way the people will simply vote them out so we’ll see how that goes but traditionally city of fremantle has always been a safe labour/greens seat but once they get a population boost of people who know whats good and whats bad the labour/greens will be forced out and things can improve.

      • simon89 says:

        :0 please run for mayor you have my 15 votes.

      • HealthyInvestor says:

        Anyone can get on the council but only people who are rich with nothing better to do with their time apply. They always run unopposed because everyone’s busy working while the hobo hippies who inherited their houses or bought back in the 70′s just cruize along through life believing someone else should pay for everything.

        There’s one PERFECT example of how stupid they are. Look up Jon Strachan he’s got a blog and I kid you not. His blog just contains him complaining about the liberal party, has a section on drinking, a section on electric vehicles, and going on holidays and taking photos… Its sums up the Fremantle town council perfectly! Typically rich/well off, just going on holidays all the time drinking and spouting garbage about how they ‘protect the planet’ but throw a technical document in front of them with the environmental ‘cost’ to produce one electric car and and the fact 87% of Australias power is generated by coal and that you actually cause 10x the damage in creating transmission and generation for the power and they have nothing to say. They got caught up in the ‘save the planet’ phase and have never had to actually work or go to university and do competent degrees. Whats his qualification you say? It really is a professional bum.

        Then there’s Rachel Pemberton. Touting a postgraduate studies in sustainable cities and community consultation. Love how it doesn’t mention what her actual degree is in. No Law, no business, no engineering, LITERALLY a degree in being a hippie! Its ASTOUNDING she has a degree in community consultation, ie pleasing the masses to get the most votes.

        If you went into a hospital with a broken leg and the person treating you has a degree in ‘patient relations and inventory management’ you would say to the ‘Excuse me but can you get out the way and stop pretending to be a doctor’

        Why these people are allowed to run a city is beyond me and as the liberal candidates have said they are ‘tired’ of trying to fight with the city council against these kinds of people who simply have 24/7 time available to do mailbox runs to drop off flyers to protest any development unless they get their ‘cut’ (usually 30-50% of the project cost is tacked on to bribe the Fremantle council in order to approve any works. So things that cost 10 million to build really cost 13-15 million) and its an unspoken rule with them. Which is why all the other mini cites are popping up, booragoon, canning bridge, rivervale/busrswood, eastern peninsula, Elizabeth quay (there was talk of using the funds to improve Fremantle until we assess it and saw it would cost the state double to return less than half.) , Hillary’s, innaloo, claremont quarter, Fiona Stanley, cockburn. All those areas getting funds and infrastructure from the government becuase they want to improve the areas, they want to clean the streets the people are motivated to create something. All could have gone Fremantles way. I’m a planning engineer and lawyer and we are SICK of how corrupt selfish & uneducated Fremantle council is and we want it wiped off the map. I’m born and raised in Freo and moved out 6 years ago after being broken into 3 times in 1 year and got sick of those idiots on council.

        The newer people who are on the council are now younger but they still have the same absolutely idiotic notion that they shouldn’t have to work for money and that actual work. Real building.

        Real heritage comes from the sweat off our backs and the sons and daughters we raise with the same values of hard work. Everything they are trying to protect came from a generation who wanted to work and create not protect and be environmental.

        No airy fairy enviro holiday feel good exercises which is something the council can never understand because it doesn’t have anyone competent in it. Or has done manual labor in their lives. No one wants to waste their time running for council because you get outvoted. So we are going to destroy that council one way or another its an embarrassment and environmental disaster of crime and idiocy. I’ll never move back and I’ll never consider running unless that council is dissolved.

  6. boomengineering says:

    I was brought up in North Cottesloe WA now live in North Manly Syd ,enough said.

  7. boomengineering says:

    Although when I first got to Manly I had some horror experiences with greenie Manly Council where Sue Sacker and cohort Burridge would be joking and sniggering at the meetings while I was going broke trying to get DAs passed.
    North Manly is in Warringah Council jurisdiction so all is now good.

    • HealthyInvestor says:

      I feel for you. Its like having to deal with criminals. ‘We were here first and own all the land. Whats that you want to put a child care center there? I’m sorry but that goes against the aesthetics of the area. You have to do A B C. Luckily our mates at X Y Z are experts at this. Oh never mind that he’s my brother, or my uncle or my sister. Its not political or anything they are ‘experts’ with technical certificates in architecture or art… Also, you have to spend $5 million improving the surrounding streets and facades. For your 2 million dollar building…’ And they say it all with the biggest GRINS from ear to ear. It really is extortion. After 10 years I told them all they can fk themselves. They will never see a cent of state money and as far as I’m concerned I’m making it a personal agenda to wipe that sorry sad little council off the map and give the land back to the people instead of listening to their ‘we love the environment, we have carbon neutral buildings, we use electric cars, everyone needs to hate the liberal party, vote greens! and Labor! who have turned it into what it is today…’ I’ve never heard people so full of hot air, laziness greed, corruption and under qualification. I must have been on a dozen committees regarding Fremantle now and I’ve had a hand in blocking the hell out of them from getting any money not because they don’t deserve it but because its everybody’s taxes and its more effective to give it to communities and projects that can be shared with everyone not some isolated private little pocket of hippies and dope smoking morons. Sorry I have to stop reading comments its just making me angrier and angrier about that waste of a council and community. How can they be a council learned scholars if they run unopposed and have no qualifications in law business or engineering. so SO stupid.

  8. Willy2 says:

    And how reliable are those reported job increases ?