Australian Unemployment Spikes to Surprising 6-Year High, 5.7%
The Australian unemployment rate jumped to a 6-year high of 5.7% in March, surprising economists who on average estimated the figure would jump to only 5.4% from 5.2% in the month prior. This same month saw 34.7k jobs lost, with nearly 40K full-time positions being eliminated. In the last 6 months, the number of full-time slots has plummeted by 115.2K. This is quite substantial for a labor force of only 11 million.
During the G20 meeting, Treasurer Wayne Swan was pressed about the prospect of continued weakness in the labor market. He stated that he would not “speculated about what (unemployment) levels will be in the forecasts in the May budget,” when speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. But just two days prior he noted that the government will “expect there to be further slowing of growth and a further impact on employment,” in an interview given in Tokyo. Julia Gillard, then acting as Prime Minster while Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was in Britain for the G20 conference, stated that unemployment would likely rise above the 7.0% forecast given by the government. Indeed today’s jump shows that the trend is clearly favoring the 7.0% mark.
The statement came amid speculation by The Australian newspaper that the government had its eyes set on a third fiscal stimulus package following the A$42 billion one enacted in February.