Australian Unemployment Rate Rises as Job Gains Disappoint
Australia’s Unemployment Rate rose to 5.3 percent in February from a revised 5.2 percent in the previous month as the economy added a meager 400 jobs amid expectations of a 15,000 increase. The details of the report revealed a gain of 11,400 full-time jobs coupled with a nearly-equivalent declined in part-time employment, essentially implying that about eleven thousand workers transitioned to longer work shifts. Indeed, a measure of hours worked surged 2.4 percent, the most in over two decades. On balance, this is not as terrible of an outcome as the headline figures would suggest. Indeed, a move to full-time hours implies workers’ take-home pay will increase, which should help encourage spending and bode well for consumption and by extension for overall economic growth. Still, the outcome marked the smallest cumulative increase in employment in six months and the first increase in the jobless rate since September of last year. This coupled with news China’s Consumer Price Index added 2.7 percent in February, putting inflation at a 16-month high and implying Beijing may step up efforts to slow the buoyant Asian economy before it overheats, could hint at the emergence of significant headwinds for the Australian economy in the months ahead. China is Australia’s largest export partner and a key driver of the mining boom that has helped support the antipodean nation’s relative resilience amid the global economic downturn of the past two years.
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