Residential Building Approvals

WESTERN Australia's seasonally adjusted residential building approvals increased by 16.2 per cent to 2,116 between January and February, more than unwinding the 10.7 per cent drop in the previous month. WA's approvals have been volatile lately, with monthly increases or decreases of 10 per cent or more in eight of the past 12 months. The source of that volatility has mainly been the private sector market for dwellings other than houses (units, etc). The underlying trend estimate shows approvals falling slightly since November 2003. Approvals increased by 10.3 per cent in the year to February 2004.

Across Australia, building approvals increased by 3.2 per cent to 14,592 between January and February, contrary to most analysts’ expectations. However, the underlying trend remains downwards. Seasonally adjusted approvals have fallen by 0.6 per cent in the past three months and rose by 5.5 per cent through the year to February 2004.

Source: ABS Cat.8752

Australian Merchandise Trade

AUSTRALIA’S seasonally adjusted credits for the export of goods decreased by $463 million to $8.7 billion between January and February, but the underlying trend of exports in recent months has been fairly flat, in contrast with the declining trend to mid-2003. In the 12 months to February 2004, goods exports decreased by $1,020 million.

Imports are trending downwards. In seasonally adjusted terms, debits for the import of goods fell by $589 million to $10,529 million between January and February. In the 12 months to February 2004, import debits for goods fell by $914 million.

These movements led to an improvement in Australia's seasonally adjusted monthly trade balance on goods of $126 million to a deficit of $1,826 million between January and February. However, the latest deficit was still $106 million larger than its level a year previously, in February 2002.

Source: ABS Cat. 5368.0

WA Government Employment

EMPLOYMENT by the WA State Government reached a 10-year high of 123,100 in November 2003, according to ABS estimates. Employment rose by 2.3 per cent through the year and by 1.4 per cent over the quarter to November.

During the 1990s WA Government employment dropped periodically, mainly reflecting the transfer of employees from the public to the private sector when agencies were privatised (BankWest, SGIO, Alinta Gas, Westrail etc). There was also a steady decline in employment in the public utilities (notably the Water Corporation and Western Power), as productivity improved. These trends were offset by underlying growth in general government employment.

Under the Labor government privatisation has ceased while general government employment has continued to grow. However, WA Government employment remains below the all-time high of 127,700 reached in August 1993.

Source: ABS Cat. 6248.0



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