Australia Jobs Boom Continues in December

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Australia's jobs boom continued in December with a further 34,700 jobs added over the month, cementing rising confidence around the outlook for the economy in the year ahead.

The job market set a blistering pace in 2017 with just over 400,000 jobs added in 2017, with around 75% of them full-time positions.

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The unemployment rate rose to a higher-than-expected 5.5% in December from 5.4% in November, largely reflecting more people looking for work. Economists had expected an unemployment rate of 5.4%.

The number of people in full-time work rose by 15,100 in December, while those in part-time work increased by 19,500, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The result comes on the back of a string of positive economic reports, including better news around consumers with retail sales and confidence both lifting.

For the Reserve Bank of Australia, the job market improvement has been welcomed, but in order to set the scene for higher interest rates, it is likely the central bank will wait until February for the next batch of wages data.

Recent reports have suggested broad company-based wages agreements have been weak, offering little hope for any near-term improvement.

The RBA wants to see income growth rise before nudging interest rates up. A premature increase in interest rates could quickly erode confidence, stifling jobs growth, while accelerating a recent fall in house prices.

The RBA has held interest rates at a record low since August of 2016. RBA Gov. Philip Lowe said in December he could see no case for change in the near future.

-Write to James Glynn at james.glynn@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 17, 2018 19:49 ET (00:49 GMT)

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