Australian jobs surge; jobless rate at 5.8 percent

AP News
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 2:55 AM

Australia reported Thursday an unexpected surge in jobs last month in the latest sign the country's economy was accelerating quicker than expected out of the global downturn.

The country added 24,500 workers in October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said, far above the loss of 10,000 expected by economists.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, rose slightly to 5.8 percent from 5.7 percent as the number of people looking for work jumped by 35,000 amid strengthening confidence in the economy.

The new jobs were largely part-time positions, which were up 21,500 last month. Full-time jobs rose by 2,900.

Total employment rose to 10.832 million in October, seasonally adjusted.

Though another sign Australia's economy was rebounding sharply, the data put pressure on the country's central bank to raise interest rates again.

Australia's unemployment rate has steadily increased during 2008 and early 2009 from a low of 3.9 percent in February 2008, but stabilized since March this year, fluctuating between 5.7 and 5.8 percent.

The figures compare favorably with other industrialized countries. U.S. unemployment in October hit 10.2 percent; the United Kingdom's jobless rate is 7.8 percent.

Economists say the strong rise in total employment will likely give the Reserve Bank of Australia confidence to lift interest rates for a third straight month in December.

Australia's central bank said last week that the country is growing quicker than originally thought as the economic crisis subsides. The bank credited lower rates, some 42 billion Australian dollars ($37 billion) of government stimulus spending and recovery in Asian countries.

Since the start of the year, Australia's currency has risen more than 30 percent while its stock market has climbed almost 28 percent.