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Jobs market showing positive signs

AAP logoAAP 15/12/2016 Lilly Vitorovich

The jobs market is showing signs of improvement with a surprise jump in the number of people in full-time work, but the unemployment rate edged higher as more joined the search for work.

A rise in full-time jobs of 39,300 in November was nearly double market expectations of a 20,000 rise, and the majority of those came in Queensland.

The jobless rate rose to 5.7 per cent, from 5.6 per cent in October, which St George senior economist Janu Chan said "was largely reflective of more people looking for work".

The participation rate, which refers to the number of people either employed or actively looking for work, rose from 64.4 per cent in October to 64.6 per cent in November.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver described the latest numbers as solid, and said they could allay fears about the jobs market after the creation of 41,500 full-time jobs in October.

If full-time improvement continues for a third month, the Reserve Bank of Australia will have good reason to keep interest rates on hold in February, Mr Oliver said.

Westpac economist Justin Smirk said rising full-time job numbers and an improving participation rate bodes well for the start of 2017.

"We know we went through a soft patch in the third quarter," he said.

"That soft patch as we go into the new year is passing and we should be seeing employment match more what we've been seeing more from the business surveys, which are pointing towards jobs growth of around 1.8 to 2 per cent per annum, which is something more in the vicinity of 20,000 per month."

HSBC chief executive Paul Bloxham said an improving jobs market should provide some support to the current sluggish pace of wages growth.

"In addition, we expect the recent sharp rise in coal and iron ore prices to support wages growth as there is a strong positive correlation between Australia's terms of trade and growth in local unit labour costs."

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