Australia’s national unemployment rate fell 0.1% to 5.2% in November, contrary to expectations, with Victoria and NSW experiencing the biggest falls in jobless numbers.
The increase in employment was driven by increased female part-time employment, up 18,100 people to 3,414,200, and was offset by decreased fulltime employment, down 4,200 people to 8,132,200.
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The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported a seasonally adjusted labour force participation rate decrease of 0.1% to 65.1% in November.
According to ANZ, employment has now reached an average gain of 13,600 in the past three months, although trend employment growth remains softer at 5,800 per month.
Across the states, the biggest driver in November was a gain of 28,000 in Queensland employment, while in NSW and Victoria employment fell by 18,000 and 13,800 respectively.
“We would caution into reading too much into these figures however as they are very volatile on a monthly basis,” ANZ said.
“In trend terms, employment growth per month has been only slightly positive or slightly negative for all major states, although is slightly stronger in WA.”
Overall, ANZ said the stronger-than-expected data is at odds with the downward trend in more timely indicators of labour demand such as job advertisements.
“At this stage, and given the volatility in monthly labour force figures, they do not appear at odds with Reserve Bank projections for the unemployment rate to edge up,” it said.
“Today’s figures should give the RBA more space to assess whether the 125 basis points of cuts through 2012 are starting to stimulate economic activity.
“That said, with little evidence that key areas of demand are picking up to fill the expected growth hole when mining investment peaks in mid to late 2013, the RBA will retain an easing bias into next year and every meeting remains live.”