Jobless likely fell ahead of JobKeeper end

Economists expect figures to show a further 35,000 people joined the workforce in March.
Economists expect figures to show a further 35,000 people joined the workforce in March.

Economists expect the unemployment rate may have fallen even further before the successful JobKeeper wage subsidy ended last month.

Key labour force figures for March will be released on Thursday with predictions centring on the jobless rate declining to 5.7 per cent, after the surprise drop to 5.8 per cent in February.

Economists expect a further 35,000 people to have joined the workforce in the month.

Westpac economists point to a number of leading indicators, including weekly payrolls, job vacancies and various business surveys, that all suggested labour demand continued to strengthen through March.

However, the next few months will be closely monitored after the end of JobKeeper, which may slow the rapid rate of decline in unemployment, or even see a temporary rise.

The Morrison government's COVID-19 vaccination program has also been thrown into disarray after health authorities recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be given to people under 50 because of the risk of blood clotting.

"The move away from the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia will further slow the vaccine rollout in Australia, particularly given the heavy reliance on it, which in turn poses a downside risk to Australia's economic recovery," AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said.

"But overall, we see the risk as small and not enough to justify any changes to economic forecasts."

Trade Minister Dan Tehan told Sky News' Sunday Agenda program the government still hopes to get all Australians vaccinated by the end of the year with at least one dose.

Previously the government was aiming for October.

The week is also dominated by a series of confidence surveys, which may provide some clues as to what impact the vaccine delay and the end of JobKeeper will have on household spending, business investment and future labour hiring.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index last week suffered its biggest drop since the start of the pandemic in the wash-up of the COVID-19 lockdown in Greater Brisbane and the end of JobKeeper.

This weekly survey is released on Tuesday, as is the influential monthly National Australia Bank business survey.

The monthly Westpac-Melbourne consumer sentiment survey is due on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Australian shares look set for a steady opening after Wall Street continued to show optimism about the economic recovery on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 reached new record closing highs, while the Nasdaq ended the day at its best closing level in almost two months.

The Dow jumped 0.9 per cent to 33,800.60, the Nasdaq rose 0.5 per cent to 13,900.19 and the S&P 500 climbed 0.8 per cent to 4,128.80.

Australian share futures were six points higher, or 0.08 per cent, at 6980.

On Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 0.05 per cent at 6995.2.

However, over the week, the market put in its best performance in nine weeks.

Australian Associated Press