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Surprise fall in Australian unemployment to below 6 per cent

Published on Apr 10, 2014 2:03 PM

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian unemployment fell below 6 per cent in March, official data revealed on Thursday, surprising analysts who had expected a higher figure and raising hopes that the jobless rate may have peaked.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said unemployment dropped from a revised 6.1 percent in February to 5.8 per cent aided by a 40,200 lift in part-time positions, which offset a fall in full-time jobs. "The number of people employed increased by 18,100 to 11,553,200 in March," the bureau said.

With unemployment expected to rise this year as a decade-long mining boom moves out of the construction phase, ANZ chief economist Ivan Colhoun said the data was encouraging. "The Australian economy has improved a bit in the last three to six months," Mr Colhoun said. "I think the re-balancing is definitely happening. We can see housing approvals and construction strengthening, we can see consumer spending strengthening a bit, we can see job ads improving... we can even see some better signs from non-mining investment intentions.

"There are encouraging signs."

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