Herald Sun - - NEWS - BUSI­NESS DAILY, PAGE 54

AUS­TRALIA’S un­em­ploy­ment rate has inched up de­spite a rise in the num­ber of peo­ple with jobs.

But Vic­to­ria has kept its po­si­tion as one of the best states in the na­tion to find work, of­fi­cial fig­ures re­veal.

The na­tional job­less rate climbed 0.1 per cent last month to 5.6 per cent — the high­est level in nine months — the Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Statis­tics said yes­ter­day.

In Vic­to­ria, the un­em­ploy­ment rate was steady at 5.3 per cent.

THE job­less rate has hit its high­est level in nine months de­spite a rise in the num­ber of peo­ple with jobs.

Across the na­tion, the job­less rate climbed 0.1 per cent last month to 5.6 per cent, the Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Statis­tics said yes­ter­day.

The re­port card for Vic­to­ria was far bet­ter, with the rate hold­ing steady at 5.3 per cent — the sec­ond low­est in Aus­tralia.

Na­tion­ally, the rate clocked in higher than ex­pected. Econ­o­mists were broadly ex­pect­ing a steady read­ing at 5.5 per cent.

How­ever the num­ber of peo­ple em­ployed rose by 22,600, the bu­reau said, com­pared with an ex­pected 20,000 in­crease.

There were 32,700 more full-time jobs in April, while part-time em­ploy­ment fell 10,000. The par­tic­i­pa­tion rate, broadly mea­sur­ing the pro­por­tion of peo­ple in or want­ing work, was up slightly at 65.6 per cent, from 65.5 in March.

The Aus­tralian dol­lar was boosted by the statis­tics, ris­ing from US75.18c to US75.27c af­ter they were re­leased at 11.30am.

Strong job creation over the past year has been met by ris­ing labour mar­ket par­tic­i­pa­tion, re­sult­ing in a fairly sta­ble un­em­ploy­ment rate.

But there have been signs of a slow­down in re­cent months — some­thing econ­o­mists warn will hold back progress to­ward low­er­ing the job­less rate to lev­els con­sis­tent with ris­ing wage pres­sure.

ANZ se­nior econ­o­mist Felic­ity Em­mett said em­ploy­ment growth had “clearly slowed over the past few months, af­ter a very strong run through 2017”.

“While labour mar­ket lead­ing in­di­ca­tors are a lit­tle more mixed now, we re­main con­fi­dent that the out­look ... re­mains solid,” Ms Em­mett said.

JP Mor­gan econ­o­mist Tom Kennedy said the lat­est em­ploy­ment statis­tics were “mixed, though on bal­ance the main de­tails of the re­lease came in softer than an­tic­i­pated”.

Sep­a­rate statis­tics this week showed the pace of Aus­tralian wage growth re­mained near record lows in the first three months of the year, which could force the Re­serve Bank to stand pat on rates for longer.

Wages rose by a sea­son­ally ad­justed 0.5 per cent in the first quar­ter, and are up 2.1 per cent from a year ear­lier.

The RBA has out­lined its con­cerns about sub­dued wages growth at a time of soar­ing house­hold debt.

Though the rapid build-up in house­hold debt has slowed, lev­els re­main among the high­est in the world.

Felic­ity Em­mett

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