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Australian unemployment rises to 2-year high

Australian unemployment rises to 2-year high

Unemployment in Australia inched up to a two-year high of 4.5 percent in December, official figures showed Thursday, but fewer jobs were lost than economists had expected amid the global slump.
Economists and the government said the data showed the downturn was dragging on Australia's economy despite the better-than-expected numbers.
The government's Australian Bureau of Statistics said the unemployment rate was a seasonally adjusted 4.5 percent in December, up from 4.4 percent in November. The economy lost 1,200 jobs in December, with full-time employment falling by 43,900 but part-time employment rising by 42,800. Economists had expected total employment to decline by 20,000.
"What these figures are telling us is that the Australian economy is not immune from the global financial crisis," acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard told reporters.
She said the government expected things to get worse, with unemployment forecast to rise to around 5 percent by mid-2009.
The data showed that part-time employment rose by almost 43,000 in the period, a shift economists said signaled cost cutting by bosses.
"There's no doubt that employers at the moment are certainly not hiring any new staff and whatever staff they currently have on board they are moving to a much more flexible work force," CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said.
The global downturn that began to bite last year has brought about a swift reversal of fortunes for Australia's economy, which has enjoyed 17 consecutive years of growth fueled by voracious demand for its mineral exports from China and elsewhere.
Since late last year, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced billions of dollars in tax cuts and new spending and the central Reserve Bank has slashed interest rates to try to protect Australia from recession. So far the economy has slowed but remains afloat.
Banks, miners and other big businesses have rushed to cut costs and raise cash to protect themselves from the financial crisis.


Updated : 2021-03-08 09:18 GMT+08:00