The uncertainty in the national labour market was again underlined by the December data issued yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showing a surprise dip in the jobless rate to a nine-month low of 5.1% from 5.2% in November and 5.3% in October.
That was despite the number of people holding down a full-time job fell, a drop in the number of people looking for work and a surge in part-time workers.
The ABS reported 29,800 jobs were created during the month seasonally adjusted – all of them were part-time, with total full-time employment falling by 300.
On a trend basis monthly employment increased by around 18,000 people. Both full-time and part-time employment increased by around 9,000 people. The trend jobless rate eased to 5.1% which represented the effects of rounding up figures.
Despite the drop in full-time employment in December, it still grew by 152,700 through 2019.
The number of people looking for work dropped by 12,900 last month while the number of people hoping to get a job and the overall jobless rate are now both at their lowest levels since March.
Markets had been expecting the creation of 20,000 jobs and no change in November’s 5.2% unemployment rate.
The survey results though were impacted by the bushfires in December to a degree in some states.
The ABS said the fires had disrupted the survey in NSW, Victoria and the ACT. It said quality-assurance work had shown the disruptions did not affect the jobs survey result.
But the January survey is likely to have suffered more disruption due to the expansion of the bushfire threat.
“The ABS anticipates some localised impacts to the sample in particular regional areas and will undertake additional quality assurance to ensure that any impact on state and national estimates is minimised,” it said
The result follows a 39,900 increase in employment in November and a downwardly revised 23,900 drop in October.
Across the states, there was a 20,600 lift in employment in NSW and a 10,300 jump in Victoria. In Western Australia, employment fell by 5,300.
Despite the drop in WA, the jobless rate fell to 5.4% from 5.7%. The biggest fall was in Queensland, where it dropped 0.6 percentage points to 5.7%.
Victoria’s unemployment rate rose to 4.9% despite that rise in total employment, while in NSW it edged down to 4.5%.