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Australian job growth - a good month but the trend is still soft

39,100 new jobs were created in November; a solid beat on market expectations of 17,500. Pleasingly, the November growth was all about full time positions.

Unfortunately, the unemployment rate missed expectations rising to 5.7% from 5.6%.

This data remains highly volatile and somewhat suspect from month to month. However, looking at the 6 month trend it all makes more sense and is beginning to pass the “pub test” in terms of fitting with general economic trends.

Over the past 6 months, the economy has created about 50,000 jobs. Only 20,000 of these have been full time while 30,000 have been part time.

This rate of growth has been good enough to hold the unemployment rate steady at 5.7% over 6 months. However a drop in the percentage of the working age population wanting to participate in the workforce has been required to produce this steady outcome in the unemployment rate.

The underutilisation rate has improved a little but still remains very high at 14.1%. This combines unemployed people plus those who have some work but would like more. It’s likely to be a long time yet before the economy absorbs all this “spare capacity”.

The bottom line is that despite today’s improvement, the overall trend in the Australian labour market remains soft. This is consistent with weak wage growth and a relatively cautious approach to consumer spending.

A weak number today could easily have fuelled selling momentum in the Aussie Dollar which was already under pressure following this morning’s Fed decision. However, the beat on jobs data has seen it rally. AUD/USD gained 23 pips in the first hour since the data was released while AUD/JPY rallied 10 pips.

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