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[SYDNEY] Australia's unemployment rate fell to 6.2 per cent in August with thousands of new jobs created, official data showed Thursday, as the economy continues to shift away from a massive resources investment boom.
A total of 17,400 jobs were added to the economy last month, 11,500 full-time and 5,900 part-time, the figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed.
The improved reading, from 6.3 per cent in July, matched analysts' forecasts, but the jump in positions was above expectations for a 5,000 increase.
The Australian dollar, which has been struggling to remain above 70 US cents in the past week, strengthened on the back of the new jobs, gaining a quarter of a US cent to 69.70 US cents.
"Generally the picture is still of companies hiring, which contrasts with the weak GDP result," Barclays' chief economist for Australia Kieran Davies told AFP.
"This survey is showing a strengthening in business conditions, so I think that companies are feeling more confident to put more staff on and historically that also signals a pick up in non-mining (capital expenditure)."
Australia's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by a slower-than-expected 0.2 per cent in April-June for an annual rate of 2.0 per cent, reflecting the economy's wobbles as it transitions away from an unprecedented mining investment boom that has helped it avoid recession for more than two decades.
The unemployment rate has hovered around a decade-high of 6.0 per cent over the past year, while spending by firms in non-resources industries has yet to fill the gap left by the mining sector.
To boost growth in the non-mining sectors such as housing, the central bank has cut interest rates over the past four years to a record low of 2.0 per cent.
At the same time, tumbling commodity prices have hit government revenue, amid concern about the softening economy of China, Australia's largest trading partner.