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--August Labor Force Data Best on Many Measures
By Sophia Rodrigues
     SYDNEY (MNI) - Australia posted some of its strongest labor-force data in
August -- producing the biggest gain in employment for 28 years from 11
consecutive months of job gains.
     The 11-month streak was the longest since the period ending January 2011
and the gains in jobs during this period were 345,300 -- falling short of
368,400 jobs created from 12 months of job gains in 1989.
     The jobless rate was unchanged at 5.6% but was a result of a rise in the
labor participation rate which was the highest since September 2012, data
published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed.
     The data will comfort the Reserve Bank of Australia -- which is relying on
continued growth in jobs to gradually eliminate the spare capacity in the
economy. The RBA may now be more confident of its forecasts because continued
job growth will lead to an acceleration in the wages growth which is important
both for household income and for inflation. 
     The latest data was positive on all measures -- full-time jobs rose, the
employment-to-population rate increased and hours worked rose.
     There was a fall in the underemployment rate to 8.6% in August form 8.8% in
May and to its lowest since 8.3% in November 2016. The labor underutilization
rate also dropped to 14.1% form 14.3% in May. Both data are published quarterly.
     In the eight months to date this year jobs have increased 268,400 -- a
monthly average of around 33,000. A big proportion of the gain was a result to
full-time jobs which rose 202,700 while part-time jobs rose 65,600.
     One of the better gauges of the labor market -- employment-to-population
ratio -- rose to 61.6% in August from 61.4% in July and was the highest since
February 2012. 
     Hours worked rose 6.1 million hours to 1,705 million hours.
--MNI Sydney Bureau; tel: +61 2-9716-5467; email:
[TOPICS: MALDS$,MMLRB$,M$A$$$,M$L$$$,MT$$$$]