CANBERRA, AAP – Economists have a broad range of expectations for the latest jobs figures, due to the uncertainty over what impact the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy may have had.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the labour force report for April on Thursday.

Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy is optimistic about what impact the end of the scheme in March might have on employment, having previously estimated up to 150,000 jobs could be lost.

In a speech this week, Dr Kennedy said the early indications are that while there have been job losses, many workers appear to have already found employment thanks to the strong labour market.

Economists’ forecasts centre on a 20,000 increase in employment in April, although predictions range from a 40,000 fall to a 60,000 increase.

Likewise, the April unemployment rate is expected to be unchanged from March’s level of 5.6 per cent, but forecasts range from 5.8 per cent to 5.4 per cent.

Last week’s federal budget forecast the jobless rate to be five per cent in mid-2022 and 4.5 per cent two years later.

The Reserve Bank wants to see unemployment much lower than its current rate, believing it needs to be below 4.5 per cent to drive wages growth above three per cent, so as to bring inflation back to some normality.

The latest wage growth figures showed there is a long way to go before this is achieved, with the annual rate as of March just 1.5 per cent.

However, forward indicators of employment continue to point to a strong labour market.

The National Skills Commission’s final vacancy report for April, also released on Wednesday, confirmed a 3.3 per cent increase in skilled job advertisements posted on the internet.

This was the 12th consecutive monthly rise and a 44.8 per cent increase from pre-COVID-19 levels.

Other gauges of demand for workers have been similarly robust.