Thursday, March 8, 2012

Surprise jobs fall put rates cut back on agenda

The number of Australians in jobs fell unexpectedly last month, putting new pressure on the Reserve Bank to cut interest rates.

More than 15,000 jobs disappeared in February, pushing the unemployment rate up to 5.2 percent.

Full time employment was flat, despite expectations  that the economy was picking up.

Listen to my analysis broadcast on The World Today.

Here's the breakdown from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Bureau of Statistics figures show 15,400 part-time jobs disappeared last month, while the number of full-time jobs remained steady at 8.1 million, taking the total number of people employed to 11.4 million.

Economists had expected 5,000 jobs to be created in the month.

The participation rate - which is the number of people at work or seeking work - fell to 65.2 per cent, from a rate of 65.3 per cent in January, yet the amount of time people spent at work increased by 21.6 million hours.

The male unemployment rate rose 0.2 per cent to 5.1 per cent, while the female jobless rate edged 0.1 per cent higher to 5.4 per cent.

Around the country, Western Australia was the only state to see a fall in the jobless rate, down 0.1 per cent to 4 per cent.

Unemployment rose sharply in Queensland (from 5.4 per cent to 5.7 per cent) and Tasmania (up 0.3 per cent to 7 per cent in trend terms), while it also rose in Victoria (up 0.2 per cent to 5.4 per cent), South Australia (5.2 per cent) and the Northern Territory (4.3 per cent).

And it was steady in the ACT (3.6 per cent in trend terms) and New South Wales (5.2 per cent).

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