The number of unemployed people increased by 8 thousand to 120 thousand, reflecting 12 thousand more unemployed youth (15–24-year-olds), while employmnent went up by 2 thousand to 2.66 million. The employment rate fell to 67.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 (from 68.2 percent in Q3). The labour force participation rate declined to 70.9 percent in the December quarter from 71 percent in the prior period.
For women, the unemployment rate rose to 4.2 percent, up from 4.0 percent in the previous quarter and for men advanced to 4.4 percent from 3.9 percent.
The underutilisation rate went up to 12.1 percent from 11.4 percent last quarter.
Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labor cost index, edged up to 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 from 1.8 percent in the previous period and compared to market expectations of 2.0 percent, as private sector wage growth climbed to 2.0 percent from 1.9 percent. Meanwhile, public sector wages rose 1.7 percent in the December quarter, faster than a 1.5 percent increase in the previous three-month period. On a quarterly basis, wages increased by 0.5 percent, the same pace as in the previous two quarters.