Once again the labour market has made monkeys of forecasters and the gloomsters, as for the second month in a row, the jobs market added more jobs than anyone expected.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics data
this morning for October showed that the jobless rate remained at 5.4%, the same rate it reached in September. But 18,700 new full-time jobs were added in the month (seasonally adjusted), well ahead of expectations, and 8000 part time jobs were lost for a net gain of 10,700 jobs.
October was in fact a partial rerun of what happened in September when the jobless rate rose to 5.4%, but 32,100 new full time jobs were created and 17,700 part time jobs were lost, meaning 14,400 new jobs were added.
The ABS reported the number of people employed rose 10,700 to 11,523,200 in October. "The increase in employment was driven by increased full-time employment, up 18,700 people to 8,130,100 and was offset by decreased part-time employment, down 8000 people to 3,393,100. The increase in employment was driven by increased male full-time employment."
The number of people unemployed fell 8800 people to 653,200 in October, and the monthly aggregate "hours worked" series also fell in October, down 4.2 million hours to 1,622.6 million hours. (They rose 7.6 million hours in September.)
The ABS said the seasonally adjusted labour force participation rate fell 0.1 percentage points to 65.1% in October. In September it rose 0.2 percentage points.
In trend terms, the number of people employed rose by just over 6000 in October (after a fall in September) to 11.513 million people. Unemployment increased 7200 to 652,700 in October, the jobless rate was steady on 5.4% and the participation rate was 65.1% (65.2% in September) and the aggregate monthly hours worked fell to 1,621.1 million hours.
NSW was steady, with men and women trading a 0.4% change for an unchanged unemployment rate of 5.2%; Victoria fell 0.2 points to 5.4%; Queensland was up 0.1 point to 6.2%; WA saw a big jump in unemployment to 4.6%, partly explained by a big rise in participation, and South Australia was steady at 5.6% off a big rise in participation.
Today's jobs data supports the Reserve Bank's decision this week to leave interest rates on hold, and undermines some of the criticisms of that decision from some business leaders and economists. Yet again the economy has maintained strength in the face of regular predictions of gloom.