ABS unemployment rate remains steady at 5.7pc in May

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Unemployment has remained steady at 5.7 per cent in May with the estimated addition of 17,900 jobs.


ABS figures showed the entire growth in jobs was in part-time work


The result was slightly above expectations, with a Reuters poll of 15 economists expecting the economy to have added 15,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to remain steady at 5.7 per cent.


The participation rate, the proportion of people in work or looking for it, remained steady at 64.8 per cent

Most economists agree Australia generally needs to create about 20,000 jobs a month to keep the unemployment rate stable.


However, the entire growth in jobs was in part-time work, with full-time work remaining flat.


The unemployed are increasingly giving up looking for full-time jobs, with the number searching for full-time employment falling 6,200 while those looking for part-time work increased 7,200.


Result in-line with expectations: Economists


"Growth in hours worked has slowed since the end of last year - consistent with part-time being the key driver of employment so far in 2016," wrote economist at Deutsche Bank, Phil Odonaghoe.


Deutsche Bank said it does not see any implications for the Reserve Bank in the figures, and expects a rate cut at the August meeting after the release of second quarter inflation numbers.


This switch to part-time work has maintained the trend of recent months where an overall 43,000 increase in new jobs since April has seen the creation of 70,000 part-time positions while 27,000 full-time jobs have been lost.


That has also seen a 4 per cent decrease in hours worked over the same period.


Economist at JP Morgan Ben Jarman said the full-time and part-time jobs split had a soft complexion to it, but overall the picture was one of stability.


"After a quite speedy drop-off in jobs growth early in 2016, May provided some welcome stability, and was consistent with annual employment growth stabilising around 2 per cent over the year," he said.


The ABS figures also provided the quarterly estimate of the underutilisation rate - which includes those who are employed but looking for work - which edged up from 14.1 per cent to 14.2 per cent.


RBC strategist Michael Turner was unimpressed, saying the figures pointed to overall on-going weakness in the economy.


"The details of the report were unambiguously weak, and suggest that spare capacity has, if anything, grown a little over the past few months," Mr Turner argued.


"Added to recent data on wages and unit labour costs, the state of the labour market remains consistent with ongoing low inflationary pressures and further RBA easing."


Across the states unemployment fell in New South Wales and Queensland down to 5.2 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively.


Unemployment rose in Victoria up to 5.8 per cent, Western Australia 5.7 per cent, South Australia 6.9 per cent and Tasmania 6.5 per cent.


Both the ACT and Northern Territory's trend unemployment edged down to 3.8 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.






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