Australia’s official unemployment rate has fallen to 5.6 per cent, despite the Bureau of Statistics estimating the loss of 3,900 jobs last month.
The headline jobless rate is now at its lowest level since the Coalition formed government under Tony Abbott’s leadership in September 2013.
The seemingly contradictory result stems from a steep fall in the proportion of the adult population in work or looking for it – the participation rate – from 64.9 to 64.7 per cent in August.
The decline in the number of people working also saw a fall in monthly hours worked, which eased by 3.9 million to 1,656 million hours.
That is despite the Bureau of Statistics saying that the census data collection would have added to hours worked last month.
“Of the majority of the persons who were employed for the census, most already had another job, but worked more hours during the month,” explained the program manager of the ABS Labour and Income Branch, Jacqui Jones.
Capital Economics has estimated that the census may still have boosted the employment numbers by around 10,000, meaning the fall in jobs was quite a bit bigger than it looked.
There was some good news in the seasonally adjusted data’s detail, however, with an estimated 11,500 full-time positions added, while it was 15,400 part-time jobs that were lost.
Although, Capital Economics said that figure is also likely to have been skewed by the 49,000 people temporarily employed to work on the census in August.
Because many of those people had existing part-time jobs, the extra census work would have pushed some into the category of being employed full-time.
ABS says trend of part-time jobs, underemployment continues
However, the less volatile trend figures, which are preferred by the ABS and most economists, show that the shift towards part-time employment is continuing.
“The latest labour force release shows continued strength in part-time employment growth, with the majority coming from increasing male part-time employment,” Ms Jones said.
Since December 2015, there are now around 105,300 more persons working part-time, compared with a 21,500 decrease in those working full-time.”
This rise in part-time work is also showing through in the underemployment rate, with a 0.3-percentage-point rise to 8.7 per cent of the workforce who would like more hours of work than they are currently performing.
That has put the quarterly labour force underutilisation rate – which combines those unemployed with those who are not getting as much work as they want – at 14.3 per cent, up 0.1 of a percentage point.
Commonwealth Bank economist Gareth Aird said the underemployment rate is now at a record high, which explains a few underperforming aspects of Australia’s economy.
“This indicates that there is plenty of spare capacity in the labour market,” he observed.
“It underpins both incredibly weak wages growth and below target inflation.”
The trend unemployment figure showed a steady labour market, with the jobless rate stuck at 5.7 per cent.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg were typically expecting unemployment to remain steady at 5.7 per cent, with around 15,000 jobs added.
The Australian dollar dropped around 0.2 of a cent to 74.6 US cents shortly after the 11:30am (AEST) data release, with the disappointing detail outweighing the headline drop in the unemployment rate.
More Problem for CBN as Naira Approaches N500/US$ at the Black Market
Naira plunged against the United States Dollar to a record low of N495 at the black market on Thursday despite the Central Bank of Nigeria saying it has enough financial means to meet forex demands.
The Naira declined by N12 from N483 it exchanged on Monday amid persistent scarcity and high demands by importers and businesses looking to offset COVID-19 losses with the usual December high demand sales.
Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Tuesday blamed the wide foreign exchange rate at the black market on speculators and hoarders looking for personal gain at the expense of the nation.
He went on to caution experts using black market rates to analyse the local currency performance to stop and claimed that section of the forex only accounts for 5 percent of the nation’s total foreign exchange transactions.
While that might be true, it is also true that majority of manufacturers and businesses have turned to the black market for their forex needs in recent months, especially after it became obvious that the apex bank does not have enough liquidity to service the economy.
The nation’s foreign reserves has been battered by the weak oil prices and the continuous production cut by OPEC and allies to artificially support low prices. Nigeria’s foreign reserves is presently hovering between $35 billion and $36 billion after plunging from $45 billion attained in June 2019, according to the latest data from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Against the British Pound, the Nigerian Naira depreciated by N15 to N635 from N620 it exchanged on Monday. Another indication of chronic forex scarcity as the local currency also plunged to N580 against the European common currency, the Euro.
The wide forex is expected to further weigh on the nation’s inflation rate and consumer spending this December.
On Tuesday, the apex bank left the interest rate unchanged at 11.5 percent and attributed the rising inflation rate to structural policies, the recent #EndSARS protest and a surging fuel price.
Naira Gains N1 to N483 Against US Dollar as CBN Warned Speculators of Impending Doom
The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday warned speculators and hoarders of the United States Dollar against creating artificial forex scarcity for personal gain.
Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said black market forex rates does not reflect the economic reality of the Nigerian Naira as that section of the forex is tainted with bribes and individuals looking to profit at the expense of the nation.
“We do not agree that the determining factor for our currency should be based on a market that is tainted, where people go to offer bribes,” he stated during a virtual monetary policy committee briefing in Abuja.
The Nigerian Naira gained N1 against the United States dollar to trade at N483 at the parallel market also known as the black market, up from N484 it traded on Monday.
Emefiele said “The black market is illegal where people do not provide documentation to support transactions. It is unfortunate and unfair for analysts to say Nigeria’s exchange rate is at 480 per dollar.”
The Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) agreed with the central bank, saying speculators and currency hoarders are responsible for the wide forex rates. The association warned that speculators are going to lose money given that the apex bank has foreign reserves of $36 billion to support the local currency and meet forex demands.
The apex bank left the interest rate unchanged at 11.5 percent to further stimulate growth in the real sector and speed up the recovery process with cheaper loans. Other ratios were left unchanged as well.
Speaking on the rising inflation rate, Godwin Emefiele attributed the 14.23 percent increase in consumer prices to the rising pump price, the recent #EndSARS protest and structural policies.
Therefore, it looks like the apex bank will damn rising inflation for the first time to focus on economic productivity, new job creation and general growth.
The Naira CBN official rate remains $379 to a United States Dollar while it exchanged at N385 on the Investors and Exporters Forex Window on Tuesday.
Bureaux De Change Association Warns Against Hoarding of US Dollar, Says Speculators will Lose
The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) on Sunday warned currency speculators and hoarders of impending losses if they do not desist from creating bogus foreign exchange rates for personal gain.
In a statement titled, “ABCON warns speculators will lose money as CBN has enough reserves to fund market, defend naira”, the association said speculators and hoarders are taking a huge risk as the Central Bank of Nigeria has enough liquidity to defend the Naira and maintain stability against global foreign counterparts.
This is coming few days after the local currency plunged to N484 to a United States dollar and N620 against the British Pound at the black market due to the rising demand and persistent scarcity that most hoarders interpreted as lack of financial muscle on the part of the central bank, especially if the nation’s falling foreign reserves is factored in.
However, ABCON said with about $36 billion foreign reserves, the Central Bank of Nigeria has the necessary means to punish speculators and hoarders they described as enemies of the nation.
President of ABCON, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, explained that the central bank is working to unify the nation’s foreign exchange rates and eliminate past challenges that have made market determined forex rates almost impossible.
He said “I think that the CBN by pushing the official foreign exchange rate from N306 to N379 to the dollar is in line with market demand.
“It has also helped to narrow the official-parallel market rates gap that formed the basis of ridiculous speculations among unpatriotic forex dealers and spectators.”
Gwadabe, however, advised the Federal Government to improve security surveillance at the nation’s land borders to checkmate illegal foreign currency cash deals.
He also asked the central bank to raise liquidity ratio of bureau de change operators to discourage dollar holdings.
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