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Australian labour market bounces back after two months of gloom – the RBA will not be pleased

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released of the latest labour force data today (March 16, 2023) – Labour Force, Australia – for February 2023. My overall assessment is that after two months of decline (some of which was related to abnormalities during the holiday period), the February result is much stronger. All the things one looks for improved – employment rose by 64,600 (0.5 per cent) with a bias towards full-time work; unemployment fell 16,500 to 507,500 persons and the official unemployment rate fell by 0.3 points to 3.5 per cent; and the participation rate rose 0.1 point Some caution needs to be observed though – the underlying (‘What-if’) unemployment rate is closer to 5.1 per cent rather than the official rate of 3.5 per cent, which indicates the labour market still has slack. There are still 1,343.2 thousand Australian workers without work in one way or another (officially unemployed or underemployed). The problem is that the RBA, which is intent on increasing unemployment in the misguided belief that the inflationary pressures are coming from the labour market, will hike further and eventually kill off employment growth.

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