18/02/2021 - 11:30

January setback in job recovery

18/02/2021 - 11:30

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More than 13,000 Western Australian jobs were lost in January, including 9,900 by women, according to new labour market data.

January setback in job recovery
The job recovery stalled in January. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

More than 13,000 Western Australian jobs were lost in January, including 9,900 by women, according to new labour market data.

Nonetheless, the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.2 per cent, the Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

All those numbers are seasonally adjusted.

The fall in employment and steady unemployment rate means the size of the state’s labour force shrank, with the participation rate dropping from 68.6 per cent, seasonally adjusted, to 67.8 per cent.

That measures the portion of working age people employed or looking for work, as against those studying or homemaking, for example.

National data

Employment increased 0.2 per cent in January to be 12.9 million, and unemployment decreased 0.2 percentage points to be 6.4 per cent.

Commsec chief economist Craig James said female underemployment fell to a seven-year low nationally.

Underemployment measures those who have jobs but would like longer hours.

“In January, the underutilisation rate fell from 15.1 per cent to 14.5 per cent,” Mr James said.

“The underemployment rate fell from 8.5 per cent to a two-year low of 8.1 per cent.

“The female underemployment rate fell from 10.9 per cent to a seven-year low of 10.2 per cent.”

HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said the main affect of summer COVID-19 outbreaks had been a reduction in hours worked, not job losses.

“The rise in employment in January means that employment is now only 64,000 lower than it was pre-pandemic, having fallen by 878,000 jobs at its low point in May 2020,” he said. 

“The January figures showed a strong rise in full-time job creation, while part-time employment, which had already surpassed its pre-pandemic levels, fell back a bit.

“Although the sharp fall in hours worked is bad news for spending and incomes in the month, the fact that most of the adjustment to the summer outbreaks came through adjusted hours rather than jobs is a positive for the trajectory of the jobs market. 

“Job loss is more damaging than adjustments being made to hours worked.

“All in all, our assessment is that the labour market is moving in the right direction. 

“The unemployment rate fell to a new post-pandemic low of 6.4 per cent, down from its peak at 7.5 per cent, although it is still well above its pre-pandemic level of 5.1 per cent.”

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