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📝 Easter Suggests Degree Of Caution On April Labour Figures: Westpac

Employment growth in April 2015 was initially reported to have fallen by an amount that was proportionally similar to April 2023 (–0.03% vs. –0.02%), and the unemployment rate reportedly lifted by 0.1ppt from 6.1% to 6.2% (these were later revised to a more tepid fall in employment and the unemployment rate holding flat at 6.1%).

It is also worth mentioning that seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked rose by 2.6% in April, following on from a modest 0.3% lift in March and a larger 3.9% increase in February. The ABS notes that in April 2023, the proportion of employed persons that worked reduced hours was 55%, less than the comparable period in April 2015 where that proportion was 60%.

The consistent strength in labour market outcomes so far this year – a situation that was other unanticipated this late in the economic and policy cycle – there is an important context around the April survey, namely around the unexpected resilience in labour demand.

Hence, given the difficult seasonality pertaining to the Easter period and the broader context at play, April’s results should be examined with a degree of caution. We are processing the numbers and working through how they will impact on our current labour market forecasts.

-Westpac


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