Australian unemployment worst in a decade

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's unemployment rate in January jumped to 6.0 per cent - its worst in a decade - with the economy shedding 3,700 jobs amid a turbulent transition away from mining, data showed on Thursday.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the jobless rate increased from 5.8 per cent in December, with some 7,100 full-time positions lost, which were only partially offset by 3,400 extra part-time roles.

The Australian dollar dived on the data, which compared with analyst predictions of a 5.9 per cent headline rate and net gain of 15,000 jobs. It was at 89.52 US cents from 90.11 cents immediately prior to the jobs announcement.

It is the highest unemployment has been since the global financial crisis, when it peaked at 5.8 per cent, and its worst since July 2003.

It also matches the government's forecast jobless peak for the year to June 30.

Australia is undergoing a bumpy economic transition with its decade-long Asia-led mining investment boom reaching its peak and the ailing manufacturing sector in dire straits with the announced exit this week of Toyota, its last remaining automaker.

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