A Disappointing Month as the ABS Reports 5,100 Lost Jobs

jobs“Whilst the unemployment rate remained stable in September it is disappointing the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Labour Force figures saw a decline of 5,100 jobs, the first time it’s declined in four months.


“Whilst the unemployment rate remained stable in September it is disappointing the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Labour Force figures saw a decline of 5,100 jobs, the first time it’s declined in four months.

“However, as expected, the unemployment rate has remained stable at 6.2 per cent. This may be due to the fact the participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 64.9 per cent, the second consecutive month it has decreased. This two month decline in the participation rate could be attributed to the equalisation we are seeing post the surge in July, following changes to the welfare system.

“Question marks have been raised again around the validity of the data, after former ABS head, Bill McLennan, said they aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. This is why, at Randstad, we look at a range of different job indicators to ensure we understand the job market in its entirety.

“Looking at job ads, SEEK reported new job ads were up almost 2 per cent in August, which continues two years of consecutive growth in the jobs market. According to ANZ, job ads jumped 3.9 per cent month on month in September and up 12 per cent year on year. At Randstad, we are also seeing this positive trend in job advertising, which is down to some growing optimism amongst businesses and job seekers.

“Whilst we have seen fluctuations in the ABS figures, the underlying trends in job indicators remain positive for Australia. We are still seeing demand for labour in the health, education, finance and constructions sectors, all of which are all positive indicators for the labour market. In addition we are seeing some jobs growth across manufacturing and hospitality which may indicate that the lower Australian dollar is having some positive effect on jobs.”

Government Opening Up More Opportunities for the Jobs Market

“There are a number of activities taking place at the national government level, which will have a positive impact on jobs. This month is Malcolm Turnbull’s first month in charge during the ABS Labour Force numbers. Although he hasn’t been in power long enough to really impact these figures, we are seeing increased business and job seeker confidence, due to how quickly he is moving in parliament to unblock legislation agreements.

“Additionally, his focus on startups, digital growth and innovation will have a positive impact on the jobs market. Although startups aren’t the biggest employers on their own, investment will stimulate growth and, with over 95 per cent of Australian businesses being small businesses, it will have an impact on the figures. In addition, investment in the startup community will bring about disruptors. As such, large organisations will have to evolve and potentially hire staff with the skills required to maintain market leading positions.

“The next few months will be key for Turnbull but his honeymoon period has got off to a good start.

“Recently the Government has passed the China Free Trade Agreement. This is also good news for the labour market, as it could create opportunities for jobs growth, particularly in the agriculture, healthcare and services sectors. We should see the impact of this over the next few months, as Australian businesses begin targeting the Chinese market.”


State Commentary


“New South Wales continues to be one of the strongest performing states, following the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) September labour force figures. The unemployment rate declined by 0.1 percentage points to 5.9 per cent this month, but this may have occurred due to a reduction in jobseekers, with the participation rate declining from 64.2 to 64 per cent - the first decline in 7 months. How much we can read into this is unclear and we’ll have to wait and see if jobseeker confidence increases next month.

“Looking at job ads, we are seeing increasing demand for education and healthcare professionals in the State. These two sectors are usually good indicators that the jobs market is improving. Additionally, New South Wales continues to have a strong pipeline of infrastructure and residential projects, which is a good provider of jobs for the state and will continue to be for the rest of the year.”



“The September labour force figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics saw a decline in the unemployment rate in Queensland, decreasing from 6.4 to 6.3 percent, even with the participation rate remaining steady at 65.5 per cent. This three month decline in the unemployment rate is good news for the state, which is seeing its jobs market stabilise following the gap left by the resources sector.

“It’s still too soon to tell if the Queensland budget is paying off, but there is definitely an increase in confidence in the market. Job ads show strength in the advertising sector across Queensland. It looks like the state may be beginning a successful transition away from the resources sector and potentially capitalising on the increase in tourism, especially in tourism centres such as Cairns, as the Aussie dollar remains weak.”



“The Australian Bureau of Statistics September labour force figures for Victoria have seen the unemployment rate increase to 6.2 per cent, following the 0.3 per cent decline last month. The participation rate remained stable at 64.4 per cent, so the state has experienced some job losses is September

“It’s not quite panic stations yet for Victoria, but it is in need of a bit of a jobs kick if it is to return to May/June levels of 6 per cent. Looking at job ads, there is increasing demand for legal and ICT professionals. If the state can find the right talent and capitalise on its startup community through investment, it may see more positive months in the future.


West Australia

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics September labour force figures for Western Australia have remained stable this month, as the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.1 per cent. However, what is concerning is the 0.6 per cent decline in the participation rate, indicating that job seekers are losing confidence in the market.

“Looking at job ads, hospitality and education professionals are currently in demand. With the continuous bleed of jobs in the resources sector, it is good that we are seeing job ads appearing for other sectors, as it continues its transition from a resource dependent state. Tourism may just be the pill the state needs to overcome the pains being felt in the resources sector.


South Australia

“The September Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures for South Australia have produced more good news for the State, with the unemployment rate continuing its decline. This provides some good news for the State, which still has the highest unemployment rate in the country, at 7.7 per cent. However, it’s too soon to think the State is making a revival, as the participation rate had a significant decrease from 62.6 to 61.7 per cent, meaning job seekers are losing confidence in the market.

“Additionally, the employee to population ratio has declined by 0.6 per cent to 57 per cent and going back to being the worst in the country. The South Australian government still has a big job on its hands in developing strategies to increase jobs in the state and can’t rest following the successful August numbers.”


Northern Territory

“The Northern Territory continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in the country, following the Australian Bureau of Statistics September labour force figures. However, the State has seen its unemployment rate increase over the last three months from, 4.4 per cent in June to 4.9 per cent in September, as has the participation rate that is much higher than the national average (65%) at 76.3 per cent.

“The employee to population ratio also remains the highest in the country, at 72.5 per cent. The challenge will be in finding skilled workers from a small pool of unemployed to fill the roles required to continue its growth following the resources boom. Businesses may have to look to other states to find the workers required to continue its growth, especially as it gears up to benefit from trade with Asia.”


“In September's labour force figures, Tasmania saw its unemployment rate fall for the third consecutive month, from 6.6 in July to 6 per cent in September. It looks like the jobs market is on the road to recovery, following April’s increase to 7.2 per cent. However, the State saw a decrease in the participation rate by 0.5 per cent to 60.9 per cent. Following this decrease, it will be important Tasmania increases job seeker confidence again to continue to perform well over the coming months.”


Australian Capital Territory

“The Australian Capital Territory continues to see its unemployment numbers rise in the September’s Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures. The unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 5.1 per cent, the highest it has been since August 2001.

“The issue for ACT is reskilling the long term unemployed to enable them to fill the skilled positions that are available, in order to reduce the unemployment rate.”


-Steve Shepherd, Employment Market Analyst at Randstad


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