Lower participation rate hides job losses

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Lower participation rate hides job losses

Australia's unemployment rate remained at 6.7% last month, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but this was only because the participation rate dropped.

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Australia's unemployment rate remained at 6.7% last month, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but this was only because the participation rate dropped.

Some 9,400 fewer people decided to put themselves into the market for full-time jobs, although 8,200 more sought part-time work.

Seasonally adjusted figures show a 1.2% drop in the rate from November. But while there was a growth of 8,100 part-time jobs, to 2.554 million, there were actually 16,500 fewer full-time jobs in December than the previous month, down to 6.623 million. This leaves 659,600 people unemployed and looking for work.

Some of the drop can be explained by the ending of temporary work surrounding last November's Federal election. There was a drop-off in construction in the lead-up to Christmas and tourism is also suffering.

Yet Federal Employment Minister Tony Abbott said he was 'cautiously optimistic' about jobs growth, as trend employment had been growing for 12 months and was at its highest level recorded.

Economic forecasters are predicting the unemployment rate will rise to 6.9%, and the participation rate will also rise, from 63.4% last month to 63.6%.

The unemployment rate was the same for men and women, although male unemployment had fallen 0.2%, while the female rate rose 0.3 percentage points.

Tasmania recorded the highest unemployment rate, at 8.4%, down from 8.8% in November. It was followed by Queensland at 8% (up from 7.9% the previous month), South Australia 7.1% (also up, from 6.8%), and Victoria 6.5% (up from 6.3%). NSW and WA recorded the lowest levels of unemployment, at 6.1%. Both those states recorded a drop from the previous month – from 6.4% for NSW and 6.2% for WA.

 
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