Australia's unemployment rate at 12-year high

[SYDNEY] Australia's jobless rate rose to its highest level in 12 years in November, data showed Thursday, as more people looked for jobs in a softening economy hurt by falling commodity prices and weak Chinese demand.

The unemployment rate edged up to 6.3 per cent in the month as 42,700 jobs were added to the economy, the figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed.

Full-time positions increased by 1,800 as part-time employment soared by 40,800, with the data slightly stronger than economists' expectations that 15,000 jobs would be created.

"Despite the unemployment rate printing a touch higher in rounded terms, November's report was overall slightly better than the market expected, and suggested labour market conditions improved modestly in November," ANZ economists Savita Singh and Riki Polygenis said.

"From here - and now that the ABS appears more comfortable with the veracity of the survey - we expect the unemployment rate to level out." The latest figures came two days after the Bureau of Statistics said it would accept all recommendations from an independent review into how the labour force survey is collated, following questions about its accuracy.

The review said the timing of supplementary surveys had contributed to the volatility in the monthly data.

The participation rate - which measures the proportion of adults in work or looking for work - rose a seasonally adjusted 64.7 per cent from 64.6 per cent. Total aggregate hours worked fell 4.4 million hours to 1,610.6 million.

Australia's economy - which has avoid a recession for more than two decades - is struggling to shift towards non-mining-led growth amid an expected sharp drop off in resources investment next year.

Pressure is building on the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut interest rates from their record low of 2.5 per cent following weaker-than-expected third-quarter GDP growth data released last week.

The slowdown in China, Australia's largest trading partner, has weighed on the resources sector and hurt the wider economy, while tumbling commodity prices have hit the nation's incomes.


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