Unemployment rate hits 10-year high in Jan

The unemployment rate has lifted more than expected in January, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The data shows the total number of jobs in Australia fell by 3,700 to a seasonally adjusted 11.460 million in the month, compared to a downwardly revised 11.463 million in December.

The unemployment rate lifted to 6.0 per cent in the month, from 5.8 per cent in December.

This is the rate's highest level since July 2003.

Bloomberg economists predicted the unemployment rate would lift slightly to 5.9 per cent and tipped the number of people with jobs would rise by 15,000.

The participation rate was steady at 64.5 per cent in January, compared with a downwardly revised 64.5 per cent in December.

The participation rate shows the proportion of the population that have a job, are looking for work or are ready to start working.

Full-time employment fell by 7,100 to 7.95 million and part-time employment rose by 3,400 to 3.51 million, the data showed.

Aggregate monthly hours worked increased by 20.5 million hours to 1.64 billion hours.

The number of unemployed persons looking for full-time work rose by 20,700 to 547,200 and the number of unemployed persons looking for part-time work decreased by 4,100 to 181,400.

Jobs figures show size of challenge: Hockey

The latest unemployment figures show the size of the economic challenge before the government, Treasurer Joe Hockey says.

The last time the unemployment rate had a six in front was in July 2003 when it was 6.1 per cent.

"The disappointing labour force figures revealed today are the unfortunate reality of six years of Labor government," Mr Hockey told reporters.

"They are not unexpected but they indicate the size of the challenge we have before us."

Jobs data shows govt has no plan: Shorten

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says a rise in the jobless rate shows the coalition government does not have a plan for the economy.

The jobless rate unexpectedly jumped to six per cent in January, the highest level in more than 10 years.

"The Abbott government has got serious questions to answer," Mr Shorten said.

"What is the jobs plan of the Abbott government? What are they doing to stop the tens of thousands of jobs that are either going overseas or just disappearing?"

Asked whether the previous Labor government took any responsibility, Mr Shorten said: "The Abbott government is in charge."

Labor employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor said the participation rate was lower than at any time since April 2006.

"Eligible people have stopped looking for work because they have no confidence that the government is helping create the environment to produce jobs," Mr O'Connor said.

With AAP