Job vacancies have hit a three-year high, confirmation that the employment market is strengthening, especially in the services sector.
The quarterly survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows there were 167,600 vacancies in November, the highest since August 2012, and up 3.5 per cent from three months earlier, seasonally adjusted.
Gains were strongest in retail trade, up 23.6 per cent in unadjusted terms, closely followed by the administrative and support services category and professional, scientific and technical services.
In the 12 months to November vacancies were up 11.8 per cent.
The figures come after the unemployment rate fell to 5.8 per cent in November from its high of 6.3 per cent in July 2015.
The ABS December employment report, due out on Thursday, is expected to show that unemployment slipped a little higher to 5.9 per cent, according to an AAP survey.
The number of people with jobs grew by 127,000 in October and November, the strongest two-month rise since the 1980s.
The ABS said the figures may have been exaggerated by some survey sampling anomalies, but Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk is among many economists who believe that jobs growth is still strong.
“We can debate magnitudes, but overall all the various indicators suggest that Australia currently has a robust labour market outside Western Australia,” he said.
Mr Smirk said the demographics show that employment opportunities are getting stronger in non-mining sectors of the economy.
“The gains in total female employment have been around 65,000 more (a year) than the total gains for males, while the unemployment rate continues to fall in NSW and rise in Western Australia,” he said.
CommSec chief economist Craig James said most jobs are being created in the service sector.
“These jobs tend to be spread over a raft of small and medium-sized businesses as well as large firms, so generally don’t attract the same degree of media attention as jobs created in mining or manufacturing,” he said.
“Some analysts have been surprised at the strength of employment in recent months, but job advertisements are rising, job vacancies are also rising and these employment opportunities are being snapped up by job seekers.”