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Jobs data to give PM’s campaign a boost

This week’s labour force figures should give the Morrison government plenty to brag about and a shot in the arm in the first week of the election campaign.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison ended weeks of uncertainty on Sunday, calling an election for May 21.

Thursday’s jobs figures for March could well see the jobless rate fall below four per cent for the first time since 1974, continuing the steady decline from a 22-year high of 7.4 per cent during the depths of the COVID-19 recession in 2020.

The consensus among economists points to a jobless rate of 3.9 per cent for March, down from four per cent in February, although forecasts range from 3.8 per cent to 4.1 per cent.

Demand for workers remain strong, as seen in a wide range of job advertising and vacancy figures.

The National Skills Commission will release preliminary data for skilled job vacancies posted on the internet for March on Monday.

In February such vacancies were at 13.5-year high.

The Australian Institute of Petroleum will also release its weekly petrol price report, which will likely show another drop in prices as the government’s cut in fuel excise works its way through the system.

Last week’s report showed the national average for petrol prices fell by a record 13.3 cents to 193.4 cents a litre, with only Tasmania and the Northern Territory still showing figures above $2 per litre.

This was largely seen as a result of falling global oil prices.

Since then the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said all major cities were enjoying the impact of the tax reduction.

It expected that over the next few weeks, as petrol stations use up their stocks of fuel on which the higher excise had already been paid, the reduced wholesale price will be passed through at the bowser everywhere.

The government halved fuel excise for six months to 22 cents a litre as part of an $8.6 billion cost of living package.

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