ACT News

Unemployment in Canberra falls to lowest rate in eight months

Unemployment in the ACT has fallen to the lowest trend rate in eight months at 4.5 per cent of the territory population, according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics.

Despite the slight decrease from 4.6 per cent in January, the participation rate continued to slide to 70 per cent of the population - almost one per cent lower than February 2014 figures.

The ACT continues to have the second lowest trend unemployment rate in Australia behind the Northern Territory.
The ACT continues to have the second lowest trend unemployment rate in Australia behind the Northern Territory. Photo: Tamara Voninski

The Bureau's monthly data, which was released on Thursday afternoon, found the national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 6.4 to 6.3 per cent with an additional 15,600 employed across Australia during February.

But the national participation rate also fell to 64.6 per cent from 64.7 per cent, revised down from a previous 64.8 per cent.

The ACT continues to have the second lowest trend unemployment rate in Australia behind the Northern Territory at 4.3 per cent, up from 4.1 per cent in January.

The Bureau said the increase in employment was driven by increases in both full-time and part-time work. 

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The largest increases in seasonally adjusted employment were recorded in Victoria where an additional 9,000 people were working during February, causing the rate to drop by 0.6 of a percentage point.

South Australia continued to have the highest trend and seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Australia at 6.9 per cent, with the participation rate falling by 0.8 of a percentage point.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said the latest figures were encouraging with more people finding work across the country.

"As always there is volatility in the seasonally adjusted data - notably the drop in unemployment in Victoria and the fall in the workforce participation rate," he said.  

"But the data shows that jobs are being created, more hours are being worked by existing workers, and more people are finding work."

JPMorgan economist Tom Kennedy also said the results were slightly better than market expectations.

"When you look at the jobs gain, it's not really an impressive outcome, but it does seem like it was enough to see the jobless rate move a bit lower," he said. 

"Today's moderate decline [in the jobless rate] is a little bit of comfort given that rise [in January] was a little bit too sharp."

But Capital Economics senior Asia economist Daniel Martin said the good news might be temporary.

"In year-on-year terms employment was up by just 1.3 per cent, compared with an average of around 2 per cent over the last decade," he said.

"What's more, given that employment tends to lag changes in economic activity, we expect that the slowdown in GDP growth in the second half of last year will result in weaker employment growth in the first half of this year."

with Patrick Commins and Jens Meyer