Aus­tralia's un­em­ploy­ment drops to 5.8 per­cent

The Pak Banker - - 6BUSINESS -

SYD­NEY: Aus­tralia's job­less rate un­ex­pect­edly de­clined in Fe­bru­ary as fewer peo­ple searched for work, sug­gest­ing the cen­tral bank is likely to keep in­ter­est rates on hold as it gauges the strength of a flat-lin­ing la­bor mar­ket. Em­ploy­ment rose 300 from Jan­uary; econ­o­mists fore­cast 13,500 gain. Un­em­ploy­ment fell to 5.8% from 6%; econ­o­mists pre­dicted no change at 6%. Full-time jobs jumped by 15,900; part-time em­ploy­ment dropped by 15,600. Par­tic­i­pa­tion rate, a mea­sure of la­bor force as a share of pop­u­la­tion, fell to 64.9% from a re­vised 65.1%; econ­o­mists pre­dicted 65.2%.

"Em­ploy­ment hasn't in­creased at all over the past three months," said Paul Dales, chief econ­o­mist for Aus­tralia and New Zealand at Cap­i­tal Eco­nom­ics. "That said, the lin­ger­ing con­cerns over the ac­cu­racy of the la­bor force sur­vey and the fall back in the un­em­ploy­ment rate to 5.8 per­cent from 6 per­cent, means the RBA won't be too con­cerned."

Aus­tralia recorded a surge in jobs in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber, though the scale of the in­creases brought re­newed skep­ti­cism about the ac­cu­racy of the la­bor force data, which the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics has ac­knowl­edged in the past. At the same time, data this month showed the econ­omy grew a strong 3 per­cent in the fi­nal quar­ter of last year, sug­gest­ing there was at least some sig­nal in the jobs re­ports.

The lo­cal dol­lar gy­rated af­ter Thurs­day's re­lease be­fore climb­ing and traded at 75.93 U.S. cents at 12:33 p.m. in Syd­ney, from 75.64 cents be­fore the data was re­leased.

The na­tion is grap­pling with the fall­out from plung­ing prices of its key com­mod­ity ex­ports as Chi­nese de­mand eases and newly-opened mines boost sup­ply. The cen­tral bank, which has cut rates by 2.75 per­cent­age points since late 2011, is bank­ing on im­prov­ing con­sumer con­fi­dence to spur spend­ing and en­cour­age busi­ness in­vest­ment. Mac­quarie Group said last month that it's hir­ing about 400 staff to man­age the re­cently ac­quired Esanda dealer fi­nance busi­ness.

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