The federal government’s leading employment index fell in February after rising for each of the previous five months.
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations says its monthly leading indicator of employment fell by 0.056 points to 0.326 in February.
The department said three of the indicator’s four components prevented a sixth consecutive increase that would have confirmed a pick-up in employment growth above its long-term trend.
Still, it is also too early to confirm that employment growth is slowing to a rate below a long-term trend of 1.7 per cent per annum because the indicator has fallen for fewer than six months, it said.
The leading jobs indicator anticipates movements in the growth cycle of employment, with a turning point confirmed after six consecutive monthly moves in the same direction.
The indicator has four weighted components: ANZ Newspaper Job Advertisements, Dun and Bradstreet Employment Expectations, the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index of Economic Activity and the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index.
Official labour force data for January will be released on Thursday.
Economists’ forecasts centre on a 15,000 rise in employment but with the jobless rate rising to 5.3 per cent from 5.2 per cent in December.