Economists expect solid rise in jobs

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics Correspondent
Labour force data shows employment rose by 22,600 in April

The federal government is within a whisker of fulfilling an election promise made by former prime minister Tony Abbott to create one million jobs in five years.

As of March, 997,000 jobs had been created since the coalition came to power in September 2013.

Economists are expecting a solid employment rise when April jobs figures are released on Thursday after modest outcomes in recent months.

They expect the number of people employed grew by 20,000 in April, although not by enough to lower the jobless rate, which is forecast to remain at 5.5 per cent.

After 16 months of consecutive strong job gains and a record result over 2017, employment grew by a slim 4900 new jobs in March.

This followed a 6300 decline in February.

Deputy Reserve Bank governor Guy Debelle told a conference earlier this week he expects the jobless rate to gradually decline from here.

He noted that the unemployment rate declined 0.25 percentage points over the past year and is expecting something similar over the year ahead.

He said forward indicators like vacancies and hiring intentions remain positive.

And with economic growth expected to pick up, he was reasonably confident that unemployment will resume a gradual downward trend, which will also lead to a pick-up in wages.

However, that pick-up in wages seems a long time coming with figures on Wednesday showing annual wage growth stuck at 2.1 per cent, only just above inflation and close to its lowest in two decades.