Australia employment surges in August

SYDNEYAustralian employment climbed more than twice as much as estimated in August, led by a jump in full-time roles. The jobless rate held steady as more people joined the labour force.

Employment rose 54,200 from July; economists forecast 20,000 gain. Jobless rate held at 5.6%; estimate 5.6%. Fulltime jobs climbed by 40,100; part-time employment rose 14,100. Participation rate rose to 65.3%, up 0.7 percentage point in the past 12 months; economists predicted 65.1% Aussie dollar bought 80.03 US cents at 12:21pm yesterday from 79.76 cents pre-data.

The labour market has been an economic bright spot this year. Full-time jobs have roared back and underemployment, while still high, dropped slightly in the three months through August. The central bank has kept its benchmark interest rate at a record-low 1.5% for more than a year to steer growth toward services industries from mining — and recent improving data for business investment suggests it’s working. But debt-laden households struggling with stagnant wages leaves a cloud over consumption prospects.

“Over the last six months over a quarter of a million jobs have been created,” said Craig James at Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s securities unit. “For a six-month period, you have to go back 17 years to find a stronger result. The economy is clearly gathering momentum.”

“The 54,200 leap in employment in August extends the remarkable run of job gains, but it is eating away at the spare capacity in the labour market only slowly,” said Paul Dales at Capital Economics. — Bloomberg