Economic Update: Employment

Australia’s national unemployment rate has remained steady at 4.9 per cent for the third month in a row. However, unemployment in Victoria has reached a six month high of 5.1 per cent, a rise of 15,000 people in a month. Job cuts by some of Victoria’s largest employers – Heinz, Foster’s, Ford and Telstra have all added to the increse

According to The Age,  the Australian dollar dropped on the jobs news, sinking about a full US cent to $US1.056 in recent trading, as investors bet the Reserve Bank was less likely to raise interest rates soon. Financial markets estimate the chance of an RBA rate rise in July is just 1 per cent, with only a 40 per cent chance the cash rate will be raised to 5 per cent by one year’s time.

These jobs figures add to a slew of recent figures pointing to a soft economy. Data out this week showed construction had contracted for 12 consecutive months while massive floods across large parts of the country this year contributed to the first quarterly shrinkage of the economy since 1991. House prices are also flat or falling in most cities, adding to households’ reluctance to spend.

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