The Straits Times
Published on Jan 17, 2013

Australian jobless rate hits 5.4% in December amid manufacturing slowdown


SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's unemployment rate jumped to 5.4 per cent in December, data showed on Thursday, with a net 5,500 jobs lost as the mining-powered 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 per cent in November.

Analysts said the scale of the losses was worse than forecast.

"Generally the message is that the labour 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.