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Jobs Surge Rolls On

Australia’s jobs boom continued unabated in December, capping off the strongest 12 month period for more than a decade, according to the Labour Force data yesterday from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Close on 400,000 new jobs were created in 2017 as trend employment rose 3.3%, well above the 1.9% for the last two decades, and the best performance since late 2005. In fact 2017 was the first calendar year since monthly data were published in 1978 that employment rose in every month.

The trend jobless rate fell to 5.4% from the revised 5.5% in November (5.4% originally reported).

The trend unemployment rate was 0.3 percentage points lower than a year ago, and is at its lowest point since January 2013.

The news had no impact on the value of the dollar which fell closer to 79 cents after topping 80 US cents overnight Wednesday.

The ABS monthly data trend full-time employment increased for the 14th straight month in December 2017.- full-time employment rose 17,000 in December, while part-time employment increased by 8,000 for a total rise of 25,000.

“Full-time employment has now increased by around 322,000 persons since December 2016, and makes up the majority of the 393,000 net increase in employment over the period,” the ABS Chief Economist, Bruce Hockman, said in yesterday’s release.

He said that over the past year, trend employment risen by 3.3%, which is above the average year-on-year growth over the past 20 years of 1.9%). “The last time it was 3.3% or higher was in September 2005,” he said.

The trend monthly hours worked increased by 4.0 million hours (0.2%), with the annual figure also reflecting strong growth over the year (3.6%).

The labour force participation rate remained at 65.5% after the November 2017 number was revised up, the highest it has been since March 2011. The female labour force participation rate also increased to a new historical high of 60.4%, having increased steadily over the past year.

The underutilisation rate fell to 13.7%, down from 14.7% at the beginning of 2017.

The figures show that in the past year, Queensland and the ACT were the states and territories with the strongest annual growth in trend employment (both 4.6 per cent), followed by NSW with 3.5%.

NSW though added 140,000 jobs in 2017, while Victoria, added only 87,000 jobs. That saw NSW’s jobless rate fall to 4.8% last month, but Victoria’s rate was 6.1%.

Over the past year, all states and territories saw a fall in their trend unemployment rates, except the Northern Territory (which increased 1.6 percentage points).

The seasonally adjusted number of persons employed increased by 35,000 in December 2017. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 5.5% and the labour force participation rate increased to 65.7%.

So will wages now show any break out for the December quarter above the current 2% level?

View More Articles By Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

At the AFR he was a finance writer, Finance Editor, News Editor and Chief of Staff. At the Nine Network he was supervising producer of Business Sunday for more than 16 years. He has also written for other online and analogue print publications here and overseas.



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