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ABS reports job growth significantly slowing

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has reported the March 2018 job figures today. The trend participation rate increased to a record high 65.7% according to the statistics.

The Chief Economist for the ABS, Bruce Hockman, said “The labour force participation rate now sits at 65.7 per cent, the highest it has been since the series began in 1978, indicating that the population is participating in the labour market at a record high level.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a country with a growing population, total employment increased by 14,000 people. Part-time employment grew by 13,000 people and full-time employment increased by 1,000 people.

It’s a good sign that both full-time and part-time numbers increased, but I think it speaks of a changing labour market when most of the new jobs are part-time ones.

According to the ABS, over the past year trend employment increased by 3.1% which was above the average growth of 1.9% for the past 20 years.

The trend unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.6% in March 2018, Mr Hockman commented “The unemployment rate has continued to be relatively constrained over the past year, and is still hovering around 5.5% to 5.7%.”

When drilling down into the state figures the best employment growth came from Queensland, which grew by 4.3%. The ACT grew by 3.9% and New South Wales grew by 3.6%.

Foolish takeaway

Businesses that rely on a growing economy and the population remaining employed will be pleased with the above numbers. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) and Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) economists can rest easy for another month.

However, if the economy were to take a bit of dive, this top stock could be one of the businesses to benefit the most.

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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Wesfarmers Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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