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Economy in Brief

Big Gain in Australia Employment; Unemployment Remains at All-Time Low
by Carol Stone January 11, 2007

Employment in Australia grew 45,000 in the month of December, about the same as in November and far above the consensus expectation of 15,000 given in one news service forecast survey. This put the year-to-year growth rate at 3.0%.

The number of Australians unemployed rose 2,200 following a 3,800 increase in November. But these small increases still left the total unemployed right at 500,000, among the lowest since the early months of 1990. The resulting unemployment rate remained at 4.6% for a third consecutive month, the lowest in the almost-29-year history of these labor force data.

This labor market performance is impressive as it accompanied a rise in the participation rate from 64.78% to 64.95%, near the all-time high of 65.02% reached in September. [The Bureau of Statistics publishes the participation rate rounded to one decimal place. We calculated the rate from labor force and population series so we could see more precise changes.]

Further, in Q4, separate data reported Wednesday show job vacancies at an all-time high of nearly 164,000, up more than 21% from the year-ago period. as seen in our second graph, much of the strength is in Western Australia -- Perth -- perhaps owing to growing trade in Indian Ocean territories. Queensland also shows gains. The two greatest population centers, New South Wales (Sydney) and Victoria (Melbourne) are seeing a steady number of reported job vacancies.

So the Australian labor market is doing well and, with rising vacancies, perhaps can sustain that track.

These data are contained in Haver's "ANZ" database and in "G10".

AUSTRALIA (Months Seas Adj) Dec 2006 Nov 2006 Oct 2006 Dec 2005 2006 2005 2004
Unemployment Rate (%) 4.6 4.6 4.6 5.2 4.9 5.1 5.5
Employment (000s) 10337 10293 10250 10035 10190 9987 9677
Change(000s)/Yr- to-Yr % Change +45 +43 -32 3.0 2.0 3.2 2.1
Participation Rate (%) 64.95 64.78 64.61 64.39 64.70 64.44 63.57
Job Vacancies (000s) 164 (Q4) 135 (Q4) 154 140 124
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