South Australia Data Wrap – labour market conditions continue to improve

Another positive labour market report for South Australia
The August results of the Labour Force Survey released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) last week paint a brighter picture of labour market conditions for South Australia. Trend estimates indicate that total employment rose by 2,040 persons to approximately 827,000 persons in August, while unemployment fell by 2,103 persons to 53,700 persons. These complimentary movements helped bring the trend unemployment rate down from 6.3 per cent in July to 6.1 per cent in August, which is its lowest level since May 2013.

The trend participation rate remained stable at 62.3 per cent in August. Meanwhile, the employment to population ratio, which is perhaps one of the best indicators of the overall health of the labour market, rose by 0.1 percentage points to 58.5 per cent in August.

Although South Australia’s trend unemployment rate in August (6.1 per cent) remained elevated compared to the corresponding national figure of 5.6 per cent, the further reduction in unemployment has helped bring South Australia back in line with other mainland states. For instance, Victoria (6.1 per cent), Tasmania (6.1 per cent) and Queensland (6.0 per cent) all had similar trend unemployment rates in August.

One of the striking features of the August Labour Force Survey results is that the seasonally adjusted estimates point to an even stronger improvement in relative labour market conditions for South Australia. South Australia’s unemployment rate in seasonally adjusted terms fell by 0.5 percentage points to 5.7 per cent in August, which is only marginally above the national unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent. However, seasonally adjusted estimates exhibit a high degree of noise, particularly at the state level. We consequently advise caution against reading too much into the latest seasonally adjusted results.

Mixed result in new motor vehicle sales
Sales of new motor vehicles in South Australia rose by 0.4 per cent in August 2017 to be up 4.1 per cent compared to a year earlier. In comparison, national sales rose by 0.3 per cent in August and were 2.7 per cent higher than a year earlier.

While the trend data point to continued momentum in spending in South Australia, in seasonally adjusted terms sales of new motor vehicles actually fell by 2.3 per cent in August. Whether this signifies a turning point or simply a temporary blip remains to be seen.

House prices continue to rise, with uneven results nationally
The ABS’s Residential Property Price Index indicates that Adelaide recorded a small rise in house prices in the June quarter (0.8 per cent). House prices nationally grew more strongly (1.9 per cent), which continues a pattern of more moderate expansion in house prices for Adelaide compared to the nation. For instance, residential property prices in Adelaide rose by 5.0 per cent through the year to the June quarter 2017, while weighted average prices for the eight capital cities rose by 10.2 per cent.

The solid increase in national residential property prices over the past year was driven by strong increases for both Sydney and Melbourne (13.8 per cent respectively). There were also solid rises for Hobart (12.4 per cent) and Canberra (7.9 per cent), and a modest increase for Brisbane (3.0 per cent). On the other hand, house prices continued to fall in both Perth (-3.1 per cent) and Darwin (-4.9 per cent).

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