Bullish labour cycle continues

AS the rest of the nation came to grips with a period of lower employment demand in October, Western Australia continued its firm lead in the labour market, with the latest figures verifying the state’s continuing solid jobs performance. The official Australian Bureau of Statistics unemployment rate figure for WA in October was 4 per cent, the lowest of any state and the 15th month it has been at or below the 5 per cent mark, a point that has been historically hard to surpass in the Australian economy. The state’s performance was at odds with those of most other states, as the nation’s unemployment rate remained at 5.1 per cent. The seasonally adjusted national rate in October was 5.2 per cent, according to the ABS. Full-time employment decreased by 60,800 to 7.01 million, while part-time employment increased by 41,000 to 2.91 million. The latest Seek Employment Index report from October says it is “clear that the Queensland and WA labour markets continue to be the most bullish in Australia, riding on the back of a booming resources sector.” The Seek index is the only Australia aggregate employment indicator to directly compare labour market supply with demand. The number of new jobs posted in the past 12 months in WA was 46.6 per cent higher, according to Seek, second only to Queensland with a 52.6 per cent rise in new job ads. Nationally, the number of new job ads posted in October fell by 6.9 per cent, but remained 36 per cent higher than at the same time last year, according to Seek, largely corresponding with the ABS data. Meanwhile, the number of job applications received, as measured by the index, remained relatively steady, falling by just 0.6 per cent, meaning that the number of applications received per new job posted increased in October. This indicates greater competition among job seekers for positions than in the previous month. A quarterly statement on monetary policy published last week by the Reserve Bank was thought to have indicated a tightening of monetary policy on the horizon for the Australian economy. But in an economic update, HBOS Australia chief economist Alan Langford noted that, buried in the RBA’s statement was the central bank’s expectation that a range of upside inflation pressures to be muted by, among other things “the prospect of a mild easing in labour market conditions”. The jobs figures release “pretty much put to bed” most expectations of a hike in the cash rate in the near term, Mr Langford said. Despite a fall in the state’s participation rate from 68.1 per cent in September to 67.6 per cent in October, the WA figure is still the best of any state.

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