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Australian employment surged better than expectations

20 Feb 2020 12:09 PM

Australia's unemployment rate rose unexpectedly in January despite a rise in full-time employment as more people look for work.

Unemployment rose to 5.3% last month, compared with a forecast of 5.2%, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data today. The participation rate rose to 66.1% and added 13,500 jobs last month, slightly exceeding expectations.

The Australian dollar fell following the data to its lowest level since the beginning of the year at 0.6621, amid considerable pressure from the spread of the Coronavirus which had a clear impact on the currency market. The Australian dollar is currently trading around its lowest level in a decade.

The data point to a three-year period of employment strength that has weathered volatility abroad and a slowdown domestically. However, the health of the labor market failed to reduce unemployment and wages as it coincided with labor force inflation. That's why the RBA cut interest rates three times last year to support investment and drive growth and inflation faster.

The number of full-time jobs increased by 46,200 while part-time jobs fell by 32,700; in fact, in the past three years, more than three quarters of new jobs were full-time jobs.

"The forest fire disturbance has not had a noticeable impact on the main statistics," the Bureau of Statistics said.

In its quarterly economic update earlier this month, the RBA forecast unemployment to remain around 5.25% until June, before falling, and wage growth to remain at 2.2%, before rising slightly.

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