Australia unemployment rate eases from six-month high

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Australia’s headline unemployment rate fell slightly in last month, easing back from a half-year high in December.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.7 per cent in January from 5.8 per cent in December, coming in below a median forecast from economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicting the rate would hold.

The Australian economy added 13,500 jobs last month, above economists’ expectations of 10,000 jobs added. December’s figures were revised up from 13,500 jobs added to 16,500.

There was a decline in the number of full-time (higher quality) jobs in January, as this fell by 44,800, while 58,300 part-time jobs were added. December’s figure for full-time jobs was revised up to an increase of 11,300 from 9,300 with part-time job numbers also revised up to 5,100 from 4,200.

Australia’s central bank gave forecasts for the unemployment rate in coming years for the first time last week in its Statement on Monetary Policy. It expects unemployment for the first half of 2017 to come in at 5.75 per cent and forecast the rate to remain within 5 to 6 per cent until June 2019.

The Australian dollar was trading up 0.1 per cent $0.7715 following release of the unemployment data.

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