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Thursday, 10 December 2015

The sample strikes back! (record female employment)

An armada of jobs!

Erm, well OK, that wasn't supposed to happen!

The November 2015 Labour Force figures followed up the enormous gains of last month (+58,600 jobs before revisions) with an even more humongous result, with seasonally adjusted employment increasing by +71,400. 

The data claims that the economy added nearly +127,500 jobs in just two months, which has not happened in the 27 years since the month of Australia's bicentenary! Hmm. Just have a Captain Cook at the chart!

Of course, sample rotation has been convicted as the culprit once again, but for what it's worth full time employment increased by +80,100 over the last two months to be up by nearly 1.1 million over the last decade.

Over the past year the seasonally adjusted series shows a staggering +344,244 new jobs for an employment growth rate of 3 per cent, compared with a population growth rate of about 1.3 per cent (the trend result was a slightly more believable +2.5 per cent, or an increase in employment of +293,336).

The participation rate increased by 0.3pts to 65.3 per cent.

Female employment has exploded, rising by +54,000 in the month and +224,600 over the year, the highest annual gain ever recorded. An anomaly, perhaps, but next week's detailed quarterly figures may show that the healthcare, social services and education sectors are indeed piling on jobs, 

State versus state

Employment growth in New South Wales is threatening to explode off the chart with +176,700 new jobs in the past year (perhaps partly as a result of employment incentives, which may account for some of the surge in female employment).

The three most populous states New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have accounted for 99 per cent of employment growth over the past year. 

Unemployment declines to two year low

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to a two year low of 5.8 per cent having pulled back from a peak reading of 6.4 per cent in January, while trend unemployment is now a shade under 6 per cent.

At the state level the raw original data shows that the New South Wales unemployment rate is just 4.9 per cent (seasonally adjusted 5.2 per cent), although the trend result hasn't gotten that low yet. The unemployment rate is also trending down nicely in Queensland, from 6.7 per cent in October 2014 to 6.1 per cent.

On the other hand the trend unemployment rate in Western Australia continues to increase, now up to 6.5 per cent.

The wrap

Overall, it was another wild result which will once again prove to be a ball and chain for the credibility of the survey, but the trend results have been encouraging and other data such as the ANZ job advertisements series have pointed to a somewhat improving labour market.

Interest rate cuts are off the table, for the time being at least.

Commentary will no doubt focus on all the reasons why the numbers must be wrong - it always does - but remember that do we have housing construction at record levels in our capital cities, an activity which always generates a strong multiplier, and new car sales ripping up all-time highs.

So there must be at least some good stuff happening.