Australia’s Unemployment Rate Rises to 5.9% with 6,400 Jobs Lost in February – The Guardian

Extract from an article by Gareth Hutchens

Australia’s unemployment rate rises to 5.9% with 6,400 jobs lost in February | Business | The Guardian The total number of Australians in work fell, against market expectations, but full-time employment rose by 27,100.

Australia’s unemployment rate has hit a 14-month high, rising to 5.9% in February, widely missing expectations of a flat rate of 5.7%.

The total number of people with jobs fell by 6,400 last month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday, with the market forecasting a rise of 15,000.

Labor has long been reluctant to argue on economic management. But if it doesn’t make a full-throated case, that poll lead could easily be whittled away

Economists say they are wary of extracting too much meaning from one month’s data, but say the fall in employment is a “little worrying” because it follows only modest employment growth in December and January.

The underemployment rate – workers who are employed but are willing to work more hours – returned last month to a record high 8.7%, or 1.1m workers.

It shows there is considerable slack in the labour market, with wages growth likely to remain subdued for a number of years.

“We expect employment growth to remain modest and the unemployment rate will probably remain around 6% this year,” Kate Hickie from Capital Economics said.

“If the unemployment rate were to rise sharply this could be enough to prompt a further rate cut by the RBA, particularly if concerns about financial stability ease.”

The ABS says full-time employment rose by 27,100 jobs in February, which wasn’t enough to reverse the sizeable 44,100 fall in full-time jobs January.

Over the last year, all new jobs have been part-time on net.

Australia’s unemployment rate rises to 5.9% with 6,400 jobs lost in February | Business | The Guardian The youth unemployment rate rose in February, from 12.3% in January to 13.3%.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the record level of underemployment was a serious concern, and the country needed a plan for jobs.

“Let me make it clear, a plan for jobs is not a plan to cut penalty rates,” he said.

“We have got wages growth at the lowest that it has been in 20 years, company profits at the highest in 40 years. The answer in Australia is not to cut middle and working class workers’ wages backwards.”

SOURCE: Hutchens, Gareth. “Australia’s Unemployment Rate Rises to 5.9% with 6,400 Jobs Lost in February.” The Guardian, 16 March 2017.

Link to website

See also: ABS 6202.0 – Labour Force, Australia, Feb 2017

BroCAP is produced by the two librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia.

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