Unemployment is now 5.3%, heightening chance of RBA rate cut

author-avatar By on February 20, 2020
Unemployment is now 5.3%,  heightening chance of RBA rate cut

Photo by Virgil Cayasa on Unsplash

Unemployment data for January released by the ABS today is up 0.2% to 5.3%.

In January, seasonally-adjusted employment increased by about 14,000 people, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures showed.

These results come after December unemployment fell to 5.1%, which was a major factor in the Reserve Bank's decision to leave the cash rate on hold in its February meeting.

This is higher than what experts were predicting, according to NAB Economics Director Tapas Strickland.

"NAB and the consensus looks for a one-tenth rise to 5.2% from 5.1% and for jobs growth of +10,000," Mr Strickland said this morning before the data was released.

Underemployment, in seasonally-adjusted terms, was also up 0.3% on December, at 8.6%. 

This also represents a 0.5% increase on January 2019's figures.

Across the states, Queensland experienced the largest seasonally-adjusted uptick in unemployment by 0.6 points to 6.3%. 

In South Australia, unemployment decreased by 0.5 points to 5.7%. 

Strickland also said unemployment data has an intrinsic link to RBA decisions.

"Aussie job[s] will dominate domestically given the RBA’s explicit tying of further rate cuts to the trajectory of the unemployment rate," he said.

"Unemployment is the one to watch being the key to the RBA’s decision to balance the need for further easing against potential financial stability concerns."

The Reserve Bank will next meet on 3 March to deliver its next cash rate decision.

Uptick in average weekly earnings, but NT goes backwards

In November, full-time workers in Australia earned $1,658.40 per week on average, according to ABS data also released today.

This was before any overtime hours worked, which brings the total to $1722.80.

This represents a 3.3% (original) uptick on November 2018.

ABS Chief Economist Bruce Hockman said the 3.2% (trend) increase equates to about $52 extra per week.

"Over the year, growth in average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time adults was higher in the private sector, which increased by 3.4% compared with 2.6% in the public sector," Mr Hockman said.

"However, overall average earnings in the public sector remained higher than in the private sector."

Though, it wasn't all good news - Northern Territory's average weekly full-time earnings went backwards by $5, and was the only state to experience a drop on May's data in the full time sector.

This comes after real wages fell in the December quarter by 0.2%, and public sector workers experienced their slowest quarterly wage growth in 22 years.

Across all employees, full time or not, the average was $1,257 per week - a 2.6% increase.

The mining industry was still the big winner in November, with workers earning an average of $2,644.80 a week, while retail trade earned the least, with an average of $813.20 per week.

Across the states, Western Australia was the big winner, with its full time workers earning $1,909.20 on average, in total cash earnings. 

Tasmania's full time workers earned $1,563.30 by comparison.


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Harrison is Savings.com.au's Assistant Editor. Prior to joining Savings in January 2020, he worked for some of Australia's largest comparison sites and media organisations. With a keen interest in the economy, housing policy, and personal finance, Harrison is passionate about breaking down complex financial topics for the everyday consumer.

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