Australia’s unemployment is likely to rise as a strong run of new jobs peters out.
About 120,000 jobs have been created so far this year, at an average of 20,000 a month.
That has brought the unemployment rate to six per cent in June after a 12-month low of 5.9 per cent in May, data on Thursday from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.
But Macquarie senior economist James McIntyre expects the unemployment rate to rise, as business investment remains weak and the economy takes some time to benefit from a falling currency.
“We still see the unemployment rate pushing up to about 6.5 per cent by the middle of 2016, that’s why we’re forecasting one more rate cut and there’s a risk of further rate cuts,” he said.
“What the month on month jobs data doesn’t change is the investment outlook for the economy, and it doesn’t change the income hit from the slide in the iron ore price.”
Mr McIntyre said his job forecast may change if there is a depreciation in the Australian dollar, a swift resolution to the Greek financial crisis and a response to China’s effort to stimulate its economy.
“The currency is going to be helpful but even at 74 US cents, the Reserve Bank thinks that a further depreciation is likely and necessary,” he said.
Jobs growth can’t be sustained
ANZ senior economist Justin Fabo doesn’t believe that the current level of jobs growth can be sustained when the economy has not fully recovered.
“Significant job losses are still forthcoming as several large resource projects are completed and commodity prices remain under pressure,” he said.
“These factors will continue to weigh on household income and spending, and ultimately limit the upside for hiring.”
JP Morgan economist Ben Jarman said recent jobs numbers suggest the non-mining sector is doing some heavy lifting for the economy.
“We’ve been sitting here with sub-trend growth still continuing but the labour market is doing better,” he said.
“The non-mining economy gradually improving might be having a bigger bearing on the labour market than people have realised.”
But Mr Jarman said the figures don’t reflect the recent Chinese stock market meltdown or the uncertainty over Greece’s future, which are having international repercussions.
“Things are evolving pretty quickly on the global front, so this data doesn’t reflect the impact of what’s going on in Europe and what’s unravelling in China at the moment,” he said.
“It’s probably too early to say the unemployment rate has peaked because you’ve still got the impact of that shock moving through the system.”
UNEMPLOYMENT EDGES HIGHER
* June – 6.0pct
* May – 5.9pct
* April – 6.1pct
* March – 6.1pct
* Feb – 6.1pct
* Jan – 6.3pct
STATE BY STATE UNEMPLOYMENT IN JUNE:
* NSW – 5.8pct, up from 5.7pct in May
* Vic – 6.0pct, unchanged
* Qld – 6.1pct, down from 6.3pct
* SA – 8.2pct, up from 7.6pct
* WA – 5.8pct, up from 5.1pct
* Tas – 6.5pct, down from 7.0pct
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (seasonally adjusted)