Jobs growth is slowing.
This week’s Labour Force figures for April were superficially reasonable, with total employment rising by +10,800 to a new high of 11,917,200, and the unemployment rate sticking at a 30 month low of 5.7 per cent.
That said, the monthly trend result of +4,100 jobs suggests a slowing of momentum, and perhaps more significantly full-time jobs growth has waned.
Over the past year total employment has increased by 2.1 per cent or +244,700, which is still a pretty strong result, and well ahead of the rate of population growth of about 1.3 per cent.
The quality of growth is a valid concern, though, with part-time jobs being created at almost double the rate of full-time jobs over the year to April 2016.
This dynamic is supported by the hours worked figures, which have faded over the past four months and have also suggested an underlying softness.
State versus state
Lately the bulk of employment has been created in the three most populous capital cities plus regional New South Wales. At the state level, therefore, NSW has been the king of jobs
Over the past year 90 per cent of jobs have been created in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
Total employment is one thing, but in the other states full-time employment growth has been weak.
In Western Australia full-time employment has declined by 2.4 per cent from 945,300 at the peak of the mining boom in April 2012 to 922,700 over the four years to April 2016.
Full-time employment in South Australia hasn’t increased since before the financial crisis in August 2007, while in Tasmania full-time employment hasn’t budged since all the way back in March 2007.
Indeed, the southern states haven’t really contributed meaningfully to employment growth over the past half decade.
Overall, this was a softer set of numbers than suggested by the headline result.
You may choose to argue the toss over whether the casualisation of the workforce is a structural or a cyclical phenomenon – most likely it’s a bit of both – but there is nothing here to suggest that soft inflation prints might not be repeated.
Macquarie analysts now see the cash rate being slashed to 1 per cent in this cycle, despite the economy continuing to grow at a reasonable lick. And they might well be right.