• CANBERRA, AAP – All the signs point to a strong recovery in Australia’s labour market after being severely dented by having the country’s two major states simultaneously in lengthy coronavirus lockdowns.

    A spread of data released on Wednesday showed payroll jobs rebounding, job advertising surging and consumers being confident of the jobless rate declining to its lowest level since the mid-1990s.

    However, economists expect it will take a few months for the jobs market to get back into full swing.

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release its labour force report for October on Thursday, which will cover the first two weeks of the month and capture the initial stages of NSW’s departure from lockdown.

    However, Victoria remained in shutdown during this period.

    Economists’ forecasts for October point to the unemployment rate rising to 4.8 per cent as people started looking for work again on leaving lockdown.

    This compares with 4.6 per cent in September and after hitting a near-13-year low of 4.5 per cent in August, a decline that had more to do with people giving up the search for work than the strength of the labour market.

    However, given there is uncertainty how the transition from lockdowns played out, economists’ predictions range for a jobless rate of 4.5 to 4.9 per cent for October.

    Employment is expected to rise by 50,000 in the month, but again forecasts range from a 50,000 fall to a 120,000 rise.

    Whatever the case, this would be a fraction of the more than a quarter of a million jobs that had been lost in the previous two months.

    The Reserve Bank of Australia in last week’s quarterly statement on monetary policy forecast the jobless rate to be a little below five per cent at the end of 2021, and then to decline steadily to four per cent by the end of 2023.

    In its latest updated forecasts, National Australia Bank has lowered its peak for unemployment to around 4.7 per cent before it resumes its downward trajectory, ending 2022 at at around 4.2 per cent and 2023 at 3.8 per cent.

    Its economists also expect the RBA to be in a position to start raising the cash rate in mid-2023, earlier than the central bank is estimating.