Jobs growth is slowing, adding to evidence that the economy is faltering and lowering to risk of further interest rate hikes.
The number of payroll jobs has flatlined for the past two months, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in a sign that demand for workers is finally softening after growing strongly for most of this year.
The payroll job index fell 0.2 per cent in the month to November 11 after rising by the same amount the preceding four-week period, though ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis noted the readings had been influenced by the hiring of thousands of temporary workers to help conduct the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum.
Employment in public administration soared almost 10 per cent in the lead-up to the nationwide vote as tens of thousands were mobilised to help conduct the poll.
Mr Jarvis said that, without the referendum's effect, employment in November would have edged up 0.3 per cent.
The softening in payroll jobs follows the release of other data showing that the labour market, though still tight, is loosening.
The number of hours worked fell 0.7 per cent in the September quarter, the first drop in two years.
And the number of job ads fell sharply in November, according to the ANZ-Indeed index, dropping 4.6 per cent - the deepest monthly decline in five years.
These developments, alongside national accounts figures showing the economy barely grew in the September quarter, have eased concerns of further interest rate increases.
Recent remarks by Reserve Bank of Australia governor Michele Bullock that inflation in Australia was increasingly "home-grown" and that many households were comfortably handling the current environment of high inflation and interest rates had fed speculation that interest rates would go higher.
But figures showing headline inflation slowed to 4.9 per cent in October and the RBA's decision on Tuesday to hold the official cash rate steady at 4.35 per cent had dampened rate hike expectations even before updates showing the sharp September quarter slowdown and softening worker demand.
The job market developments could prove to be particularly significant.
Ms Bullock has fretted about the effect of rising labour costs in slowing the decline in services inflation, potentially forcing the Reserve Bank to hold interest rates higher for longer.
Economists think because many employers have found it so hard to recruit workers that they have tended to hang on to them even as demand has slowed, dragging on productivity.
But the drop in work hours has delivered the first quarterly lift in productivity in several quarters and growth in unit labour costs - how much is spent to produce a unit of goods or services - slowed.
Westpac chief economist Luci Ellis, a former RBA official, said the recent slump in productivity has also been driven by the big influx of migrants and expects the effect to fade as the in-rush slows.
Ms Ellis said some of the issues that had recently made the Reserve Bank hawkish, including weak productivity and strong equipment investment, "are no longer operative".
"[The] data are view-changing," she said. "In the face of subdued domestic demand growth and a household sector under extraordinary income pressure, further ... policy tightening would be hard to justify."
Markets have slashed the odds of a further rate hike from 23 to 8 per cent and having begun pricing in the chance of cuts from May next year.