Govt delivering right job policies: Cash

Economists expect the jobless figures will show some 15,000 jobs were created in January.
Economists expect the jobless figures will show some 15,000 jobs were created in January.

Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash insists the government is putting in place the right policies to spur employment growth as new figures showed last year's the strong run of job gains extended into 2018.

A further 16,000 jobs were created in January, following on from the record of over 400,000 people who entered the workforce in 2017.

The jobless rate edged down to 5.5 per cent from an upwardly revised 5.6 per cent in December.

"We are delivering the policies that enable businesses to go out there, prosper, grow and at this point in time over the last 12 months, create in excess of 1100 jobs per day," Senator Cash told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

However, the January figures released on Thursday included a near 50,000 drop in full-time employment, the biggest decline in a year, but was offset by an increase of almost 66,000 in part-time workers.

Labor's employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor said the government might like to continue to boast about job numbers, but it was doing nothing to deal with underemployment and the casualisation of the workforce.

He said there are 1.1 million Australians looking for more work but not being able to find it.

"People cannot find enough work to pay the bills," Mr O'Connor told reporters.

"If you are waiting by the phone to see if you have a shift at work, that provides no certainty, it creates anxiety in families, for working people, when they have no guarantee of minimum hours."

BIS Oxford Economics' Sarah Hunter said despite the spectacular pace of jobs growth last year there is still considerable spare labour capacity in the economy.

While jobs vacancy surveys highlight that firms are still looking to hire, the labour market can comfortably meet this demand through rising participation and the elimination of underemployment.

"This means wages growth will be subdued for at least the rest of this year, with the average worker unlikely to see their pay rise by much more than inflation," she told AAP.

Australian Associated Press