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Job gains record in sightLabour force; Population estimates; Overseas arrivals & departures
Employment rose for the 14th straight month, up by 61,600 in November after rising by 7,800 in Octobe (previously reported as a rise of 3,700 jobs). Full-time jobs increased by 41,900 while part-time jobs rose by 19,700. Economists had tipped an increase in jobs of around 20,000.
Hours worked rose by 0.6 per cent in November and were up by 4.0 per cent over the year. Trend hours worked rose 3.4 per cent over the year, the fastest growth in seven years.
The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.4 per cent – the lowest jobless rate since February 2013. The participation rate rose to 65.5 per cent from 65.2 per cent, seasonally adjusted – the highest level in 6 years.
Unemployment across states in November: NSW 4.6 per cent (previous 4.6 per cent); Victoria 5.5 per cent (previous 5.7 per cent); Queensland 5.9 per cent (previous 5.9 per cent); South Australia 6.1 per cent (previous 5.8 per cent); Western Australia 6.6 per cent (previous 6.0 per cent); Tasmania 5.8 per cent (previous 6.0 per cent). In trend terms unemployment in the Northern Territory rose from 4.4 per cent to 4.6 per cent; ACT unemployment fell from 3.9 per cent to 3.8 per cent.
State/territory jobs: In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in Victoria (up 32,900 persons), followed by New South Wales (up 28,500 persons) and Western Australia (up 8,500 persons).
Underemployment: The underemployment rate fell from 8.5 per cent to 8.3 per cent in the three months to November with the underutilisation rate down from 14.0 per cent to 13.7 per cent.
Population: Australia’s population expanded by 388,100 people over the year to June 2017 to 24,598,900 people. Overall, Australia’s annual population growth rate eased marginally from 1.61 per cent to 1.60 per cent – still near the fastest population growth in three years.
Record Chinese tourists: Over the past year a record 1,366,900 tourists came to Australia from China, up 13.1 per cent over the year. Tourists from China and Hong Kong rose to a record 1,645,900 over the past year, up 13.6 per cent over the year. A raft of companies is affected by the employment data but especially those dependent on consumer spending. Amongst stocks affected are Fairfax, West Australian Newspapers, Seek Limited, McMillan Shakespeare and Skilled Group. The population figures are especially important for companies exposed to home building and consumer spending. Tourism data is important for airlines, hotels and booking agents.
What does it all mean?
Today’s job market release was the last ‘top shelf’ Australian economic data release for 2017. It certainly didn’t disappoint with 61,600 jobs created – the largest monthly increase in two years. It has been an exceptional year for jobs growth – the second fastest annual increase on record – with around 383,300 jobs created over the past year.
More Aussies are looking for work. More people are finding work. More employers are hiring workers and seeking employees. In fact there have been 14 straight months of job gains. The last time this occurred was the period from August 1979. The longest stretch ever is 15 consecutive months from May 1993. The record is in sight.
The jobless rate is the lowest for 4½-years. Unemployment remains under 5 per cent in three of the nation’s states and territories. In fact the NSW job market could be considered at full employment with a jobless rate of 4.6% – a 9-year low. Strong jobs gains have also been recorded in Victoria with the unemployment rate falling to 5.5 per cent.
Aussies actively employed or looking for work rose to 6-year highs. The participation rate rose to 65.5 per cent in November from 65.2 per cent in October, seasonally adjusted.
The job market continues to improve with unemployment slowly edging towards ‘full employment’ – or an unemployment rate near 5 per cent. And all the leading indicators point to further job growth over the next six months.
Jobs are being created, boosting spending power in the economy. But wage growth remains modest and elusive – although wages are still rising at a faster pace than prices. A tightening labour market, receding job security fears and evidence of emerging skills shortages in some sought after occupations is expected to eventually result in a gradual increase in wages growth. However, there is still some slack in the labour market and further jobs gains are required to lift wages.
The wages growth ‘puzzle’ (i.e. jobs growth/wages link) still needs to be resolved before the Reserve Bank will move interest rates. Therefore, official interest rates are unlikely to change until at least late next year. Australian population growth of 1.6 per cent is near 3-year highs. All Australian states and territories recorded positive population growth over the year to June. Victoria recorded the highest population growth rate of all states and territories at 2.3 per cent, while Northern Territory lagged at just 0.1 per cent. A strong labour market is attracting interstate and overseas migrants to Melbourne, while better housing affordability and jobs growth is driving population growth in Queensland and Tasmania.
In some regions, it is natural increase – more babies being born (less the number of deaths) – that is driving population growth. In other regions it is immigration. But overall the stronger rate of population growth is boosting spending, demand for infrastructure, demand for homes, and overall economic growth.
China is the biggest source of tourists to Australia. The ascendancy of China is just beginning with its growing middle classes demanding higher quality goods and services. It clearly would be beneficial for our services sectors of the economy to get even more of China’s 1.4 billion people coming to Australia.
What do the figures show?
Labour market
Employment rose for the 14th straight month, up by 61,600 in November after rising by 7,800 in October (previously reported as a rise of 3,700 jobs). Full-time jobs rose by 41,900 while part-time jobs rose by 19,700. Economists had tipped an increase in jobs of around 20,000.
Hours worked rose by 0.6 per cent in November and were up by 4.0 per cent over the year. Trend hours worked rose 3.4 per cent over the year, the fastest growth in seven years.
The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.4 per cent – the lowest jobless rate since February 2013. The participation rate rose to 65.5 per cent from 65.2 per cent, seasonally adjusted – the highest level in 6 years.
Unemployment across states in November: NSW 4.6 per cent (previous 4.6 per cent); Victoria 5.5 per cent (previous 5.7 per cent); Queensland 5.9 per cent (previous 5.9 per cent); South Australia 6.1 per cent (previous 5.8 per cent); Western Australia 6.6 per cent (previous 6.0 per cent); Tasmania 5.8 per cent (previous 6.0 per cent). In trend terms unemployment in the Northern Territory rose from 4.4 per cent to 4.6 per cent; ACT unemployment fell from 3.9 per cent to 3.8 per cent.
State/territory jobs: In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in Victoria (up 32,900 persons), followed by New South Wales (up 28,500 persons) and Western Australia (up 8,500 persons).
Underemployment: The underemployment rate fell from 8.5 per cent to 8.3 per cent in the three months to November with the underutilisation rate down from 14.0 per cent to 13.7 per cent. 
Population Statistics
Australia’s population expanded by 388,100 people over the year to June 2017 to 24,598,900 people. Overall, Australia’s annual population growth rate fell marginally from 1.61 per cent to 1.60 per cent – still near the fastest population growth in three years.
Over the past year population growth was the strongest in Victoria (2.34 per cent), followed by the ACT (1.69 per cent), Queensland (1.64 per cent), NSW (1.57 per cent), Western Australia (0.84 per cent), Tasmania (0.64 per cent), South Australia (0.61 per cent) and the Northern Territory (0.15 per cent).
Australia’s population grew by 87,160 people over the June quarter, after growing by the biggest quarterly increase in nine years in the March quarter by 126,138 people.
A total of 245,500 people migrated to Australia over year to June, up from 231,900 in the year to March and the biggest annual gain in 6½ years. Still, growth is still down the peak of 315,700 migrants in the year to December 2008.
There were 303,000 babies born in the past year – lower than the record growth of 312,200 babies born in the year to December 2012.
Population growth in Victoria is 18.9 per cent above the decade average and population growth in NSW is 12.1 per cent above the decade average. In Tasmania population growth is 15.8 per cent higher than the decade average.
Overseas arrivals & departures
In October, tourists from Greater China (China and Hong Kong) totalled 150,900 (mainland China 125,700; Hong Kong 25,200), ahead of New Zealand (118,400). China is the largest source of tourists to Australia.
Over the past year a record 1,366,900 tourists came to Australia from China, up 13.1 per cent over the year. Tourists from China and Hong Kong rose to a record 1,645,900 over the past year, up 13.6 per cent over the year. Tourists from New Zealand totalled 1,355,400 visitors over the past year, but were up just 1.6 per cent.
In annual terms as well as monthly terms, China is the largest source of tourists to Australia.
Why is the data important?
The Labour Force estimates are derived from a monthly survey conducted by the Bureau of Statistics. The population survey is based on a multi-stage area sample of private dwellings (currently about 22,800 houses, flats, etc.) and a sample of non-private dwellings (hotels, motels, etc.). The survey covers about 0.24 per cent of the population of Australia and includes all people over 15 years of age, except defence personnel.
If more people are employed, then there is greater spending power in the economy. But at the same time companies may adjust the work hours of employees. If employees work less hours, and therefore get paid less, then spending power in the economy is reduced.
Demographic Statistics are issued by the Bureau of Statistics each quarter. The figures include estimates of births, deaths, in-bound and out-bound migration movements and estimates of population change by State.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics releases data on overseas arrivals and departures is produced monthly and is an indicator of the health of the tourism sector. The figures are also useful in understanding spending trends and tracking migrant numbers – an indicator with widespread implications for employment, housing and spending.
What are the implications?
Aussies are enjoying the longest stretch of consecutive monthly employment gains since May 1993. More jobs are being created, more hours are being worked and fewer people are unemployed. But the wages growth ‘puzzle’ (i.e. jobs growth/wages link) still needs to be resolved before the Reserve Bank will move interest rates. Therefore, official interest rates are unlikely to change for the next year.
There are more people coming to Australia and more babies being born. Overall, population is rising, adding to demand for a raft of businesses across a range of industry sectors. The lift in the growth of the population and the physical population numbers, lifts demand for infrastructure, thus boosting the outlook for builders, building material companies and construction companies.
Originally published by Ryan Felsman, Senior Economist, CommSec