Jobless figure hits four-year low in ‘remarkable turnaround’

Jobless figure at lowest level since 2013.

Jobless figure at lowest level since 2013. AAP

The percentage of Australians without a job has hit its lowest level in four years, new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics have revealed.

In September, the trend jobless figure reached 5.5 per cent, the lowest it’s been since March 2013. It represented a year-on-year decline of 0.2 percentage points.

Altogether, an extra 16,000 people entered full-time employment in September, while a further 8000 entered part-time employment.

Over the year an extra 335,000 jobs were created, 271,000 of which were full-time jobs.

Queensland saw the highest jobs growth, at 4.1 per cent, followed by Tasmania (3.9 per cent), Victoria (3.1 per cent) and Western Australia (2.9 per cent).

Overall, trend employment grew 2.8 per cent.

The ABS figures also showed a jump in the number of women active in the job market. A record 59.9 per cent of women are now either in work or actively looking for work.

That compared to 70.8 per cent of men.

Callam Pickering, APAC economist for global job site Indeed, said the figures demonstrated a “remarkable turnaround following a disappointing 2016”.

“Although the pace of employment growth is likely to moderate over the remainder of the year, towards more sustainable levels, it is likely that jobs growth this year will be among the highest on record,” he said.

However, he said it would remain “difficult to square away these strong employment figures with such low consumer confidence”.

“Normally strong employment growth is associated with improving sentiment. Households continue to struggle with low wage growth and high debt levels and, at least for now, this appears to be offsetting any improvement from stronger employment,” he said.

Earlier this month the Reserve Bank of Australia warned Australians not to expect wage growth to pick up any time soon.

Around the same time, ABS revealed unexpectedly weak consumer spending, with a 0.6 per cent drop in retail turnover.

At the time, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull linked this weak consumer spending to sluggish wage growth.

“While we’re seeing strong growth in employment, we’re yet to see stronger growth in wages, so people feel as though they’re not getting ahead,” he told Neil Mitchell on 3AW.

“That’s why economic growth is so important,” the PM said.

Meanwhile, a report by Anglicare, released on Thursday, found that while employment may be on the rise, certain groups were being left behind – most notably entry-level jobseekers and those on casual contracts.

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