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More than 13,000 Western Australians found jobs in April in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as unemployment in the state dropped 0.6 percentage points to 5.9 percent.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows about 7,500 (seasonally adjusted) more WA women found jobs in April, taking the number employed to just more than 605,000. About 5,700 more men were employed too, taking employment among males to 752,000, it’s highest level since October 2015.

“The overall increase in employment data was the second best of any state in seasonally adjusted terms.”

In a further promising sign, these increases came as the labour force participation rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 67.7 percent, meaning two-thirds of working age Western Australians are either in work or looking for work. That breaks with a trend of recent monthly falls in the unemployment rate being correlated with falls in the participation rate, meaning job seekers had been giving up and leaving the job market. An unemployment rate of 5.9 percent seasonally adjusted means WA has the second lowest unemployment rate of all states, while the national average is 5.7 percent.

It follows not so positive news in yesterday’s wages data, with WA wages in the year to March up 1.2 per cent.

That was the lowest of any state, and compared with growth of 2 percent in the year to March 2016.

One silver lining was that quarter on quarter growth of 0.3 percent was nearly double the growth in the December quarter, an indicator that wage growth may have bottomed out. Further improvements in unemployment data would put upward pressure on wages.

National

Commsec chief economist Craig James said the Australia-wide data would send pessimists scrambling.

“Employment rose by 37,400 in April after rising by 60,000 in March (that number was revised from 60,900),” Mr James said. “Full-time jobs fell by 11,600 while part-time jobs rose by 49,000.”

“Economists had tipped a 5,000 increase in jobs.”

“At face value, the March jobs data was ‘one out of the box’ – an outlier if you like. But the gain of 60,000 jobs was backed up by additional job gains of more than 37,000 in April. Now clearly it is no fluke.”

“In fact jobs have lifted for the past seven months, averaging gains of around 25,000 a month. Unemployment is falling and hours worked are up 1.3 per cent over the year – the best annual growth in 11 months.”

“The forward indicators like job ads and business surveys had been pointing to a stronger job market and indeed it does now appear to be a reality.”

Youth Issues

Career counselling service TwoPointZero chief executive Steve Shepherd said the numbers were not a great reflection of the state of the market, particularly with regards to youth underemployment.

Technological advancement, changing regulations and a more service-based economy were to blame, he said.

“This has created the misleading decline in the unemployment rate.”

“Although the statistics saw the youth unemployment rate decline from 13.2 per cent to 12.8 per cent, it is still more than double the national average and certainly not time to get excited about the labour prospects for young Australians,” Mr Shepherd said.

“Looking at the data, it’s clear many young Australians are working in temporary, part-time jobs instead of starting their careers.”

“This is evident from the increase in the underemployment rate, which jumped up by a whole percentage point, from 19.2 per cent to 20.2 per cent.”

“Additionally, April saw over 20,000 full-time jobs lost amongst young Australians, which has been offset by an increase in part-time jobs.”

“This has created the misleading decline in the unemployment rate.”

This article was first published by Matt McKenzie from Business News Western Australia

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