The Australian economy is likely to be important to the outcome of the next federal election. While employment growth was strong in all of 2017, it has stalled in early 2018.
Between September 2016 and January 2018, more jobs were added each month, with a total gain of over 520,000 jobs, averaging almost 33,000 jobs gained a month. However, in March 2018 there were over 1,000 fewer jobs than in January, after a slip in February.
Quarterly retail sale volumes rose 0.2% in the March 2018 quarter, down from a 0.8% gain in the December 2017 quarter.
In March, the total value of dwelling commitments was down 4.4% from February at a level well below the previous months. The number of owner occupied dwelling commitments continued to trend down. This fall began before the Banking Royal Commission uncovered some unethical banking practices.
In the March quarter, wages growth continued to be low, at just a 0.5% increase in that quarter, and 2.1% for the year from March 2017 to March 2018. Labor and the unions are campaigning strongly on wage growth, so this will be an important issue at the next election.
The Australian share market has surged owing mainly to higher commodity prices, and Australia had a trade surplus of over $1.1 billion in each of January, February and March. However, the domestic economy does not appear to be doing well in early 2018.
All figures here are seasonally adjusted, and are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.