Australia to revise jobs data, likely cut August surge

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Australia's official statistician is making changes to employment figures for the past three months that, on the face of it, would show far fewer jobs created in August than first reported.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Wednesday said it would restate employment figures to account for an absence of seasonal patterns usually seen in July, August and September.

The jobs numbers are closely tracked in financial markets and billions of dollars change hands depending on whether the results beat or miss forecasts.

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The September data are due on Thursday and analysts had been expecting a sizable fall of 30,000 in seasonally adjusted employment as statistical payback for a record 121,000 increase in August. The August figure had been so far above expectations that analysts had doubted its credibility.

The ABS said that while compiling the September data it found that the normal seasonal pattern evident from July to September was not apparent, so it had decided to report the raw numbers instead.

"This means the seasonally adjusted estimates for these months will be the same as the original series and this will result in revisions to the previously published July and August seasonally adjusted estimates," the ABS said in a statement released on its website.

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The original series showed employment rose by 32,100 in August, rather than by 121,000. For July, original employment fell by 11,900 while the adjusted number dipped 4,100.

"The ABS will commission a review with independent external input to develop an appropriate method for seasonally adjusting October 2014 and following months' estimates," said acting Australian Statistician Jonathan Palmer.

"The report on the results of this review will be presented in due course."

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The net result was that job creation should now appear far more subdued than first reported, said Su-Lin Ong, a senior economist at RBC Capital Markets.

"It looks like monthly jobs growth of around 10,000, which fits in much better with other indicators showing an economy muddling along," she said.

"It also means markets should discount pretty much whatever the ABS reports for September and there shouldn't be much reaction."

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The September jobs figures are due at 0030 GMT on Thursday.

The changes should also see major revisions to the unemployment rate. The seasonally adjusted series showed the jobless rate spiked to 6.4 percent in July, from 6.1 percent in June, only to drop back to 6.1 percent in August.

Yet the original numbers put the jobless rate at 6.0 percent for both July and August.

"The jump to 6.4 percent in August always looked a bit much," noted Ong.