|5,500 more join Australia jobless line
Australia's unemployment rate jumped to 5.4 percent in December, data showed today, with a net 5,500 jobs lost as the economy slows and manufacturing struggles.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the seasonally-adjusted jobless rate increased 0.1 percentage points from an upwardly-revised 5.3 percent in November.
Analysts said the scale of the losses was worse than forecast, AFP reports.
“Generally the message is that the labor market, whilst it is okay, is softening and therefore unemployment is starting to go up,’’ said Alan Oster, chief economist at the National Australia Bank.
Building materials manufacturer Boral and resources company Santos were among major firms who announced significant numbers of sackings in December.
Boral and Bluescope Steel laid off hundreds more workers this week as the strong Australian dollar squeezes local firms.
Australia's manufacturing sector contracted for a 10th consecutive month in December due to weak global demand as China cools and Europe and the US grapple with debt.
The domestic economy is also softening to a growth of anemic 0.5 percent in the three months to September, prompting the central bank to slash interest rates to a record low of 3 percent last month.