Workers Unemployment Data Feared Hitting 5.3% in April

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By Vittorio Hernandez | May 10, 2012 10:38 AM EST

Economists are forecasting that when the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases unemployment data on Thursday, it would show joblessness has risen to 5.3 per cent in April from 5.2 per cent the previous month.

That translates into about 5,000 less jobs for the fourth month of 2012, although the ABS could surprise Australians again as it did in March when it announced instead the addition of 44,000 jobs in March.

However, despite the anticipated 0.1 per cent increase in unemployment, the economists said the participation rate or percentage of Australians in work or looking for a job would remain unchanged at 65.4 per cent from the same level in March.

If the economists' forecast would be confirmed by the ABS, it would validate newspaper accounts of hundreds of job losses in the manufacturing, retail, banking and other weak sectors of the Australian economy as factories and retail outlets shutter and banks axe some positions.

Long-term forecast by the government is that Australia's unemployment rate could even climb up to 5.5 per cent over the next financial year due to structural changes in the economy.

However, BT Financial Group chief economist Chris Caton found the Treasury's prediction too bright and instead forecast a gloomier 6 per cent unemployment rate for the medium-term.

National Australia Bank chief economist Alan Oster told The Sydney Morning Herald that with the ongoing restructuring of the economy unemployment rate is expected to edge higher in the June quarter.

St George chief economist Hans Kunnen explained the structural changes to modernisation of the economy through technology and globalised competition, which he said is justification for the government to enact the $1.8-billion cash handouts to Aussie families.

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