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Economy in Brief

Australian Employment Performance Hesitates at End-2005 After Potent Gains in Earlier Months
by Carol Stone January 12, 2006

In December, employment in Australia rose a mere 2,100, and the unemployment rate was unchanged from November at 5.1%. Forecasts cited in one news service survey had looked for a 9,000 gain in employment and the 5.1% unemployment rate, so this report was disappointing, but only mildly so.

We last discussed Australian the labor market in September, covering August data. At that time, employment in Australia had risen continuously for a year, an extraordinary development in that economy, which generally shows more month-to-month variability. That variation appeared again immediately, as September's jobs fell by 42,400. October's fell again, as seen in the table below, but there was some gain in November before December's miniscule rise. Overall, though, 2005 put in a strong performance: the average number of people with jobs expanded 305,000, the largest annual gain since 1995.

The job slowdown since the August peak has been accounted for almost entirely among male employees, 30,600 of whom lost jobs over the last four months. Female employees edged down only 1,300 on balance, with a decline in September and three monthly increases subsequently.

At the same time, the total unemployment rate touched a record low of 5.0% in August. The hesitation in employment over the last few months lifted the jobless rate to 5.2% in October, and it ended the year at 5.1%. The participation rate also edged off its record high of 64.8% in August, settling at 64.4% at year-end.

Annual Averages
Australia Dec 2005 Nov 2005 Oct 2005 Dec 2004
2005 2004 2003 2000
Employment (thous) 10,033 10,031 10,002 9,822 9,987 9,682 9,482 8,989
  Monthly Change (thous/%) 2 28 -20 2.1 3.2 2.1 2.3 2.1*
Participation Rate (%) 64.4 64.4 64.3 63.8 64.4 63.6 63.6 63.7**
Unemployment Rate (%) 5.1 5.1 5.2 5.1 5.1 5.5 6.0 6.0**
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