Good December for WA jobs

Source: Business News

Western Australia’s unemployment rate fell 0.3 points to 6.3 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms in December, as 8,000 people entered jobs.

Almost 6,400 of those were women.

With about 1.35 million Western Australians in jobs, it was the second highest month for employment on record in the state.

Labour force participation was up 0.2 points, too, to 68.8 per cent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was steady in seasonally adjusted terms, at 5.8 per cent.

But it was a very strong year overall, with the highest levels of job creation since 2006, St George Bank chief economist Hans Kunnen said.

Across 2015, more than 301,000 jobs were created nationally, he said.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said the December numbers had surprised on the upside, but he warned that the job creation numbers might be overstated.

“While the economy should be generating okay jobs growth consistent with the rebalancing we are seeing away from mining and very low wages growth is helping on this front, total growth in employment of 301,300 or 2.6 per cent through 2015 is unbelievably strong for an economy that’s growing around 2.5 per cent,” he said.

“As such I remain of the view that statistical issues are exaggerating the jobs numbers and depressing the reported level of unemployment.”

CommSec chief economist Craig James said the result was due to the strength of the services sector.

“Consumers are spending, buoyed by the gains in home prices over the past year and the boost to spending power provided by the lower petrol price,” he said.

“Then there are the demographics – an ageing population continues to create jobs in the healthcare sector.

“And the strength of the tourism sector is being underestimated.

“Almost half a million additional tourists visited our shores in 2015 compared with a year ago the lower Aussie dollar will continue to drive the positive trends in tourism.

“Of course, home construction is an additional factor underpinning spending.

“As more homes are built, demand for curtains, carpets, lights, TVs and other household items will increase, and that will lead to more retail jobs.”