Unemployment expected to remain at 5.7%

Marty Silk
(Australian Associated Press)


The unemployment rate is expected to have remained at 5.7 per cent in February, and economists will be examining any changes to the number full-time jobs.

The number of Australians with a job is expected to have risen by about 15,000 in February, according to the median forecasts of 14 economists surveyed by AAP.

Capital Economics chief economist Paul Dales said most labour market indicators suggest jobs growth remains strong after rising 13,500 in January.

“Admittedly, most indicators have over-estimated the exact rate of employment growth recently. But we largely agree with the general signal,” he said.

Job vacancy data, and February being a traditionally strong month for jobs growth, hinted at solid figures, TD Securities chief Asia-Pacific macro strategist Annette Beacher said.

“There is a risk that hours worked remain flat and part-time employment dominates, although a lift in full-time employment looks imminent,” she said.

Mr Dales said the figures will also include an updated estimate of the underutilisation rate, or the proportion of people who are unemployed or employed and looking for more work.

Given that the lion’s share of recent employment growth has been in part-time positions, and people often work part-time because they can’t find full-time work, the underutilisation rate would likely stay well above the long-run average of 12.8 per cent, he said.

“It may even increase above November’s rate of 14.1 per cent. This excess slack is likely to keep wage growth around record lows for the foreseeable future,” Mr Dales said.

The February unemployment figures will be released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday.

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