Home Trusted by 600,000+ buyers

'Not time to panic' over volatile unemployment numbers

12 February, 2015

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) January Labour Force numbers have seen a decline in full time jobs and an increase in part time jobs that was to be expected, according to Employment Market Analyst at Randstad, Steve Shepherd.

As ABS classifies full time work as anyone working more than 35 hours, Shepherd asserts the sustainability of the full time jobs reported in December was always going to be questionable.

"I believe January's numbers show a redressing of part time and full time work, as the hours worked by part time workers drop, following the busy Christmas period. This has taken them out of the full time category and placed them back into part time along with, some dropping off altogether," he said.

"There was an expectation the participation rate would decline but this remained stable. This also contributed to the larger than expected increase in unemployment to 6.4 per cent – the highest it's been since August 2002.

"However, it's not yet time to panic. We have to wait to see the February and March job numbers to get a clear picture of what is happening. This will enable us to eliminate any question of job volatility during the holiday period, particularly as the hospitality and retail sectors are two of the largest employment groups," Shepherd said.

"The January numbers contradict what we are currently seeing in the employment market, when you look at business confidence and job indexes. This is why the February numbers will be so important. There is still a lingering question about the volatility in the 30 year old methodology the ABS use to obtain these figures and the limited definitions between part time and full time work."

Regional Commentary


"The January job numbers will put even more pressure on likely Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. During the election Ms Palaszczuk was very clear that Queensland needed a strong jobs agenda. Now, with the unemployment rate increasing to 6.5 from 6.2 per cent, it will be even more important the local government implements a jobs growth strategy as soon as possible.

"Given the two most recent state elections saw one term governments tossed out, it is evident the electorate will not give the government much time to demonstrate a clear plan to create jobs in Queensland."

New South Wales

"With the state election coming up in March, New South Wales' Premier Baird will be taking particular note of the lessons learned from the Victorian and the Queensland Elections. Whilst NSW has been the strongest job market for the better part of 2014, he cannot afford to be complacent.

"Now, with the January numbers revealing the unemployment rate has risen to 6.3 per cent – the highest it's been since June 2009 – it will be even more important for Mr Baird to focus on jobs creation and communicate a clear jobs plan, if he wants to see another term."


"With the Victorian election concluding in November last year, we needed to see evidence of how the new government is going to increase jobs. This hasn't happened as of yet, with the unemployment rate increasing from 6.5 to 6.6 per cent.

"Prior to the election, Premier Andrews promised a jobs agenda and a $1 billion jobs fund to kick start Victorian jobs. The pressure is now on him to deliver on that promise."

Have your say...

We welcome thoughtful comments from readers
Reload characters
Type the characters you see in this box. This helps us prevent automated programs from sending spam.