So what will the “Rate Rise Looms” mob do with the April labour force data, which showed there was a sharp fall in job numbers created last month? Go for the fall back position, “Rate Rise Looms”, but not quite yet?

In fact so sharp was the fall — down 22,100 overall in the Australian Bureau of Statistics data out this morning that you’d be entitled to ask if all those analysts who forecast an increase of 17,000 to 25,000, were worth their money.

To the best of knowledge, the ANZ’s was one of the few who saw the possibility of a fall when it forecast the loss of 5000 jobs with its monthly job ads report on Monday.

While the seasonally adjusted Australian unemployment rate was steady at 4.9% in April, there was a surprise 49,100 fall in full-time jobs. That was offset by a rise of 26,900 part-time jobs.

That can be sometimes be an early indicator of the jobs market stalling as more and more employers put full-time staff under hourly contracts onto part-time work.

Equally it is also a good indicator of a gathering rebound in the labour market as employers can sense a surge in demand coming and start hiring part-time workers in anticipation of more work.

So in reality we are none the wiser. But another month or two of job losses, even if they are small, will force the RBA to think hard about a rate rise, even if inflation is seen to be rising.

Putting the domestic economy to sleep to allow the investment boom is one thing, and the reality of current monetary policy, being responsible for euthanizing, it is another thing.

Still this is likely to be a blip with the RBA and the federal budget confidently seeing unemployment falling in the next two years and the unemployment rate falling to 4.75% next financial year and 4.5% a year later.

Coming after the equally surprising 37,800 rise in March, the April data could represent some catch up and smoothing going on among employers.

The ABS said the number of people unemployed decreased by 9800 people to 583,000 in April, reported the ABS. The ABS monthly aggregate-hours-worked series showed a decrease in April, down 14.7 million hours to 1601.6 million hours — another sign of demand falling for labour in the month.

The ABS reported labour force participation in April of 65.6% down 0.2% from March.

Peter Fray

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