Building and job numbers remain weak

Employment and home building figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics have failed to shed positive light on the state of the economy.

NAB Group chief economist Alan Oster said the ABS now believes it has pinned down the seasonal adjustment issues facing the labour force survey.

“Having revised the underlying data, it now appears that seasonally adjusted employment fell in both August and September and the unemployment rate rose to 6.2 per cent,” Mr Oster said.

“Employment rose 0.2 per cent in October but a compensating rise in the participation rate left the unemployment rate unchanged at 6.2 per cent,” he said.

“The new ABS method continues to point to quite tepid labour demand.”

While some forward indicators, such as ANZ job ads and the NAB employment index, have gained momentum, the overall outlook for the labour market remains quite soft, Mr Oster said.

Meanwhile, forward indicators for building activity weakened in September and the recent strength now looks to have been something of a local peak.

“Private house approvals declined for the second consecutive month in September and the bumpy ‘other dwelling’ sector gave up its gains from the previous month (about half of them from large apartment projects)," Mr Oster said.

“HIA house sales declined in September, although new multi-unit sales recorded a strong rise,” he said.

“Despite a pickup in private commercial approvals, the value of total non-residential approvals also fell in September.”

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