Unexpected 14,000 more in work in Australia

Featured Oceania - December 9th, 2012

Australia’s unemployment rate fell unexpectedly to a three-month low in November, a sign that the economy is holding up.

The jobless rate fell to 5.2% in November from 5.4% in October, despite projections that the rate would rise to 5.5%, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Thursday. It also revealed that 13,900 jobs were added to the economy in the month.

“The doomsters have got it wrong – again. More jobs created, more hours worked and fewer people unemployed,” says Craig James, chief economist at Commonwealth Securities in Sydney.

Thursday’s report revealed mixed data, with the number of full time posts plunging by 4,200 from October to November while the number of part time positions rose by 18,100. Participation rate – people in work, looking for work or ready to start work – slumped to 65.1% from 65.2% in October, reflecting that some discouraged workers may be dropping out of the labor market, reports the Wall Street Journal.

JP Morgan economist Ben Jarman said the lower participation rate was due in part to self-employed people in the construction industry who may not have any projects at present and don’t consider themselves unemployed. He stressed the factor played by participation in the decline in unemployment.

“Participation dynamics are still distorting the data, with further shrinkage in the labour force pulling the unemployment rate down,” he said.

Still, the job market is expected to weaken in 2013. “We don’t expect the good news to continue, and forecast the national unemployment rate to rise towards 5.5% in early 2013,” Spiros Papadopoulos, an economist at National Australia Bank, told the Journal.