Australia’s September jobs report has just been released, and it’s a huge miss.
According to the ABS, employment fell by 9,800 following seasonal adjustments, well below forecasts for an increase of 15,000.
Further tarnishing the report, August’s employment decline, previously reported at 3,900, was revised to a drop of 8,600.
Full-time employment slumped by 53,000. Employment among males fell by 36,200, outpacing a drop of 16,800 for females.
The decline in full-time employment was partially offset by an increase in part-time employment of 43,200, led by a gain of 31,600 for females.
Over the past 12 months, employment increased by 163,134, the smallest annual gain recorded since April last year. In percentage terms, employment grew by 1.38% over the past year, also the slowest pace since April 2015.
Part-time employment has grown by 5.4% over the past year, the fastest pace seen since January 2010. On the other hand, full-time employment has fallen by 0.4%, the first decline registered since April 2014.
Despite the miss on employment, the unemployment rate fell to 5.6%, beating forecasts for a lift to 5.7%. August’s unemployment rate, previously reported as 5.6%, was revised up to 5.7%.
It now sits at the lowest level since February 2013.
Like the national figure, unemployment among both males and females came in at 5.6%.
Labour force participation slid from 64.7% to 64.5%, explaining the fall in unemployment. It now sits at the lowest level seen since May 2014, falling from its recent peak of 65.3% in November last year.
Explaining the slide over the past year, labour force participation among males skidded to 70.1%, the lowest level seen in the history of the survey.
Female participation held steady at 59.1%.
Courtesy of the fall in participation, and coming despite the decline in total employment, the total number of unemployed fell by 12,500 to 705,100, the lowest level since November 2013.
Male unemployment rose by 500, offset by a decrease of 13,000 among women.
Further clouding the data release, wild even by the ABS’ standards, monthly hours worked rose by 4 million hours to 1.66 billion hours.
Like the national jobs figures, those for the states and territories were equally as wild.
According to the ABS, the largest employment increase was registered in New South Wales with employment rising by 6,700 persons. Victoria recorded the largest decrease in employment of all the states and territories at 11,700.
Along with New South Wales, Tasmania was the only state to record a lift in employment.
As shown in the table below from the ABS, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rates were all over the place, especially in Tasmania where unemployment plunged from 7.2% to 6.5%.
So what to make of the report, besides question volatility in the data?
While undoubtedly weak, Australian financial markets have not reacted in a manner that suggests any degree of panic, perhaps a reflection of the growing scepticism about reliability of the seasonally adjusted data.
The Australian dollar is down 0.4% at .7691, while the ASX 200 is up 0.2%.
3-year bond futures have rallied around six ticks, although they have only moved back to levels seen on Wednesday.
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