Australian adds 54,000 new jobs in August, mostly full-time positions

Iain Gilbert WebFG News | 14 Sep, 2017 11:22 - Updated: 14:14 | | |

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Job growth Down Under picked-up noticeably last month, led by full-time job creation and another rise in the number of job-seekers, another potentially positive sign for the economy.

According to a research report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) the nation's unemployment rate held steady throughout August at 5.6% even as more than 54,000, mostly full-time, positions were created during the month.

An estimated 40,1000 full-time jobs were added to Australia's economy in August, with a further 14,100 part-time jobs also being created.

The amount of job creation was more than triple what had been expected by economists and led to the Australian dollar nudging back over the 80 cent USD mark shortly after the report being released at 0230 BST.

"Employment growth has been phenomenal and there has been a gradual tightening in the labour market," noted economist Gareth Aird of the Commonwealth Bank, one of Australia's 'Big Four' banks.

However, the unanticipated level of job creation failed to dent the jobless rate from its July 5.6% mark as the ABS said it's study showed an increased number of people aged 15 and over in the workforce, or looking to join it, making August's 65.3% participation rate the highest recorded since 2012.

Federal Employment Minister Michaela Cash said the increase was a result of a record number of women entering the workforce, at a time when women were 3.9% more likely to be unemployed than men.

"As the Minister for Women, I am delighted the female participation rate has hit an all-time high of 60%," she told reporters.

Bruce Hockman, chief economist at the ABS said the numbers were a continuation of a recent trend towards stronger growth in full-time employment.

"Full-time employment has now increased by around 253,000 persons since August 2016, and makes up the majority of the 307,000 person increase in employment over the period," he wrote.

Paul Dales from Capital Economics said the underutilisation rate, which combines unemployment and underemployment rates, fell to 14.1% from 14.4% in May.

"But it needs to fall to around 12 per cent before we can say that there is a 'normal' amount of spare capacity in the labour market," said Dales. "As such, while faster employment growth will put more money in households' pockets, it probably won't translate into much faster wage growth."

Indeed, in an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, RBA's Ian Harper rubbished talk of a rate increase, explaining that it was unjustified because the economy was still operating below capacity.

Harper also indicated there was little the central bank could do to offset US dollar depreciation, which would bear down on inflation in Australia, because the driving force behind it was weakness in the States.

Yet looking out a little further ahead, Paul Bloxham and Daniel Smith at HSBC stuck by their call - first made in December 2016 - for the RBA to start raising its cash rate at the start of 2018, pointing to continued strong growth in full-time job creation and the ongoing jobs recovery in Western Australia and Queensland, two of the states hardest hit by the end of the mining boom.

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