Jobs growth is tipped to have picked up pace after stalling for months, but the unemployment rate is unlikely to improve.
The March unemployment rate is forecast to rise to 5.9 per cent from February’s 5.8 per cent, according to an AAP survey of 13 economists.
But the number of Australians with a job is expected to have risen by 20,000 in March.
That follows a gain of just 300 jobs in February, and a fall of 7,900 in January and 1,400 in December.
“We’ve had three soft numbers. The pace of growth in employment is back more in line with where the indicators are,” Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk said.
Stellar jobs growth in the final quarter of 2015 is now drifting back to a more normal level, he said.
A surprise fall in the unemployment rate in February was closely related to a fall in the participation rate – a measure of the number of people either employed or actively looking for work.
Mr Smirk said that move looked questionable, suggesting there’s some issues with the Australian Bureau of Statistics survey itself.
“So it’s looking for a bit of a rebound,” he said.
The participation rate is expected to have risen to 65.0 per cent from 64.9 per cent in February, which would dilute the impact of jobs growth on the unemployment rate.
The Reserve Bank this week tweaked its language around the 2015 jobs improvement, suggesting the bank suspects it may now be in the past.
But Mr Smirk said the RBA focuses on broader trends, and the March labour force figures alone won’t shape the central bank’s May rates decision.
“Overall it’s a reasonably robust report outside the two states suffering the most from the readjustment from the mining boom, WA and Queensland,” he said.
The ABS will release its employment report on Thursday.
EMPLOYMENT REBOUNDS, JOBLESS RATE RISES
* Unemployment rate to rise to 5.9pct in March
* The number of people with jobs tipped to rise by 20,000
* Participation rate forecast to rise to 65.0pct
(Source: AAP survey of 13 economists)