Australia: Unemployment rate steady but employment surges in election month
Seasonally-adjusted employment increased by 42,300 in May from the previous month, following the revised 43,100 jobs added in March (previously reported: +28,400 jobs) and more than doubling analysts’ expectations of a gain of 17,500. May’s reading was driven by a rise in both part-time and full-time workers. May’s federal election probably provided a substantial boost to employment during the month, as additional workers were needed for pre-polling, and vote counting.
Seasonally-adjusted unemployment remained stable at April’s 5.2% in May, despite the sizable job gains. This was due to an increase in the seasonally-adjusted participation rate, which rose by 0.1 percentage points to a record-high of 66.0%. Meanwhile, the seasonally-adjusted underemployment rate inched up from the previous month’s 8.5% to 8.6% in May.
Markets reacted by driving the Australian dollar down, as the stable unemployment reading reinforced expectations that the Reserve Bank of Australia will cut interest rates again at its next monetary policy meeting in July.