CANBERRA, AAP – New job vacancy figures are likely to back the case for a sustained move in the unemployment rate under four per cent.

This week’s federal budget, and the Reserve Bank of Australia’s most recent forecasts, point to the jobless rate hitting 3.75 per cent this year, a level not seen since the early 1970s.

The jobless rate currently sits at four per cent, its lowest level in 14 years.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will on Thursday release job vacancy figures for the three months to February.

In November there were 396,000 vacancies, 169,000 more than the start of the pandemic.

Other gauges of job advertising still showing a strong demand for workers.

The ABS will also release building approvals figures for February.

The consensus among economists points to a strong 10 per cent rebound in approvals in February.

This follows a slump of 27.9 per cent in January due to staff shortages of council workers, private certifiers and building business staff during the Omicron outbreak and a higher than usual uptake of holiday leave.

The RBA will also release its monthly credit data for February.

In January private sector credit was running at at annual rate of 7.6 per cent, which Westpac economists say was the fastest pace since November 2008, but still well below the pre-Global Financial Crisis peak of 16.5 per cent seen in December 2007.

For February, economists predict a further 0.6 per cent rise in the month.

“Looking further ahead, a looming RBA tightening cycle will cool housing and the upcoming May federal election will add to uncertainty, potentially triggering a dip in business borrowing,” Westpac says.

Financial markets are predicting the first rise in the cash rate in over a decade in June.