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Australia's labour market resilient, keeps jobless rate low at 5.7%

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Australia's unemployment rate stayed at its lowest in over two years in April as the economy generated nearly 11,000 new jobs, an encouraging outcome highlighting the resilience of the labour market.

[SYDNEY] Australia's unemployment rate stayed at its lowest in over two years in April as the economy generated nearly 11,000 new jobs, an encouraging outcome highlighting the resilience of the labour market.

Thursday's report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the jobless rate was unchanged at 5.7 per cent in April, when the median forecast had been for a rise to 5.8 per cent.

The unemployment rate has been around 5.75 per cent in recent months, having been as high as 6.25 per cent last year.

A total of 10,800 net new jobs were created in April, slightly undershooting forecasts of 12,500. Full time employment fell 9,300, while part-time jobs rose 20,200.

Annual jobs growth was a healthy 2.1 per cent.

The Australian dollar dropped to a two-and-a-half month low after the mixed jobs data.

The Aussie fell as low as US$0.7209, from US$0.7232 earlier in the day, before bouncing back to where it started the session near US$0.7230. A sustained break under US$0.7212 would target a major retracement level of US$0.7063.

While employment growth has slowed from the strong pace of around 2.5 per cent in the past two quarters, some leading indicators of employment have been encouraging.

A closely watched survey by the National Australia Bank earlier this month showed businesses' hiring intentions stayed above their long-run averages in April, suggesting ongoing resilience in the labour market.

Underpinning labour demand has been slow wage growth, which reduces cost pressures for businesses.

Government figures on Wednesday showed wages grew at their slowest pace on record last quarter with a mere 0.4 per cent increase. That took the annual rate down to 2.1 per cent, a record low as well.

REUTERS