Australian labour market deteriorates – employment growth negative, participation down, unemployment rising

Yesterday we had the wages data. Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released of the latest labour force data (May 18, 2023) – Labour Force, Australia – for April 2023. The April result is the second consecutive month that the data is weaker. Employment fell by 4.3 thousand, participation fell by 0.1 point, and unemployment rose by 18.4 thousand even though the fall in the number of workers seeking work took some pressure of the situation. The unemployment rate rose from 3.5 per cent to 3.7 per cent. All the main aggregates are now in retreat – employment falling (also relative to the population), participation falling and unemployment rising. With yesterday’s wage data still revealing only modest wage increases and on-going and substantial real wage cuts, today’s data suggests the deterioration in the economy is underway. The underlying (‘What-if’) unemployment rate is closer to 4.9 per cent, which indicates the labour market still has slack. The broad underutilisation rate rose 0.1 point to 9.9 per cent and that means there are still 1,409.9 thousand Australian workers without work in one way or another (officially unemployed or underemployed).

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