October Jobs Data Better Than Expected

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

A solid jobless report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for October which showed another month of progress in restoring employment.

While Australia’s unemployment rate edged higher to 7% as more people re-entered the labour force in October, 178,000 people found work as Victoria re-opened and other industries hired more.

ABS Head of Labour Statistics Bjorn Jarvis said in a statement with the jobless data that the increase in employment for the month meant October employment was only 1.7% below March, reflecting a large flow of people from outside the labour force back into jobs.

“Encouragingly, the rise in employment was also accompanied by a strong rise in hours worked, particularly in Victoria, where hours increased by 5.6 per cent,” Mr Jarvis said.

Victoria’s jobless late fell from more than 14% in September to just over 10% in October.

On top of the surge in new jobs (which in most cases, old positions being filled – in many cases by those who had left) total hours worked rose 1.%, indicating mort demand.

Since starting to ease restrictions in October, Victoria’s employment increased by 81,600 people (2.5%).

But nationally, the number of people unemployed remains 230,000 above the February level.

However employment and hours worked in Victoria remained 4.1% and 9.0% below March (compared to 1.7% and 3.8% for the rest of Australia), the ABS said.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rose 25,500 in October and the participation rate increased by 0.9 percentage points. The ABS said the strong rise in participation resulted in a slight increase in the unemployment rate, rising 0.1 percentage points to 7.0 percent.

“The number of people actively looking for work and who were available to start work increased in October,” Mr. Jarvis said.

“Coupled with a strong increase in employment, the participation rate increased by almost a whole percentage point in October to be just 0.1 percentage points below March. “

The underemployment rate decreased 1.0 percentage point to 10.4%, 3.4 percentage points below its peak in April 2020.

The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, fell 0.9 percentage points to 17.4%, 2.8 percentage points below its peak in May 2020.

The contrast with the growing jobs market with the near static wages growth in the September quarter however underlines the still biggest problem for the Reserve Bank – jobs, wages and demand.

Glenn Dyer

About 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.

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