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Australian unemployment jumps to 5-year high

Australian unemployment jumps to 5-year high

Unemployment in Australia rose to its highest level in more than five years in March, reflecting the continuing fallout from the global economic crisis.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said Thursday that unemployment rose to 5.7 percent from 5.2 percent in February _ the highest level since October 2003, when the jobless rate reached 5.8 percent.
Economists had predicted a jobless rate of 5.4 percent in March.
Total employment dropped by 34,700 to 10.8 million. Full-time employment decreased by 38,900, while part-time employment rose by 4,200.
"These figures are sobering news," Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard told reporters in Canberra. "This global financial crisis and global recession has hit jobs around the world and, of course, is having a significant impact on jobs in this country."
In February, the federal government predicted a jobless rate of 5.5 percent by June, rising to 7 percent by mid-2010.
"There was never any doubt that employment would weaken, though we had thought the decline would continue to be more gradual," said John Edwards, HSBC chief economist of Australia and New Zealand. "We expect the unemployment rate to increase towards at least 7.5 percent in the first quarter of next year."