Australians eager to work are telling employers to “come and get me”, Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash insists, despite a slight dip in the number of people in the market.
The unemployment rate dropped to 5.2 per cent in September from 5.3 per cent the month before, according to new seasonally adjusted data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Another 14,700 people landed jobs, marking the 36th consecutive month more Australians found work.
Full-time workers drove the boost, with 26,200 landing full-time gigs and 11,400 people stepping out of part-time roles.
But the participation rate also fell marginally to 66.1 per cent, from 66.2 in August.
Labor’s Brendan O’Connor latched onto this figure, arguing it showed Australians were losing faith in the jobs market.
“That does speak to the lack of confidence that jobseekers have in securing employment,” he told reporters in Canberra.
BIS Oxford Economics chief economist Dr Sarah Hunter said the data, combined with weakening employment growth indicators, showed people may be giving up on finding work.
“It suggests some people may be formally dropping out of the labour force because they can’t find a suitable position,” she said.
Senator Cash hosed down the suggestions, pointing out the participation rate was only just shy of its all-time high of 66.2 per cent.
“So Australians, they actually have confidence in the jobs market and they’re putting their hands up and saying ‘I’m ready, willing and able to work, come and get me’,” she told reporters.
“Every single month for three years, the Australian economy has now generated jobs. That has never happened before in Australia’s history.”
Most economists expected the unemployment rate to remain unchanged.
Mr O’Connor said the jobs data was damning when combined with other measures of the economy, including the International Monetary Fund this week revising down its 2019 growth forecast for Australia by 0.4 per cent.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was on Thursday desperate to bring the economy’s weak points to the fore, using every one of his turns at the dispatch box in Question Time to labour the point.
He urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to debate him on the issue.
Mr Morrison saw no need to do so, accusing Mr Albanese of running a self-centred campaign.
“It’s all about you, isn’t it?” he said.
“We debate the economy every day.”