Unemployment falls against expectations

By a staff reporter, with AAP

Unemployment in Australia fell in March, against analyst expectations, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The data shows the total number of jobs in Australia increased by 0.1 per cent to a seasonally adjusted 50,100 to 11,663,200 in the month.

Analysts had expected the nation to add 11,000 jobs in the month, tipping the unemployment rate would remain steady at 5.6 per cent. Instead, the rate fell to 5.5 per cent. 

The result is based on an upwardly revised March figures, which states total employment was 11.613 million.

But economists are tipping a rise over the next six months. 

The participation rate, the percentage of the working age population either employed or looking for a job, rose to 65.3 per cent, from 65.1 per cent, against analyst predictions it would hold steady. 

Full-time employment increased 34,500 to 8,159,700 for the month and part-time employment increased 15,600 to 3,503,500.

The ABS report also showed aggregate hours worked by employed people in Australia were up by 0.7 per cent in April, seasonally adjusted, after a fall of 0.2 per cent in March.

The result repeated the pattern of the previous two months, when hours worked fell by 0.2 per cent in January then rose 0.7 per cent in February.

Aggregate hours worked in April 2013 were 0.8 per cent higher than a year earlier in April 2012.

The figures also show the trend measure of hours worked rose by 0.2 per cent in April.

Results mixed across states

Across the states and territories, the individual unemployment rates were mixed.

The jobless rate in NSW fell to 5.3 per cent, from 5.5 per cent, and dropped to 5.6 per cent, from 5.9 per cent, in Queensland.

It also declined in South Australia to 5.7 per cent, from 5.8 per cent.

But in Victoria it rose to 5.8 per cent, from 5.7 per cent, jumped to 5.2 per cent, from 4.8 per cent, in Western Australia and increased to 7.5 per cent, from 7.3 per cent, in Tasmania.

Unemployment rose to 4.5 per cent, from 4.4 per cent, in the Northern Territory, but was unchanged at 4.6 per cent in the ACT.

Earlier this week, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its cash interest rate to a historic low of 2.75 per cent to "encourage sustainable growth" in the economy.