Australia Unemployment Rate Surprisingly Dips 4.9% in April

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By Vittorio Hernandez | May 10, 2012 4:29 PM EST

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) pulled another surprise on Australians for the second consecutive month by announcing on Thursday that unemployment rate in April unexpectedly dipped to 4.9 per cent.

The report went against economists' forecast that joblessness rate would rise to 5.3 per cent in April from 5.2 per cent the previous month.

That would have translated into about 5,000 less jobs for the fourth month of 2012. In March, ABS surprised Australians when it announced instead the addition of 44,000 jobs that month.

It is the lowest level of unemployment in 12 months and was because of 15,500 new jobs in April. Although 10,500 full-time jobs were lost for the same period, 26,000 part-time jobs were also created in April.

The ABS report said 11.501 million Australians were employed in April, which is the highest level in over 34 years.

"Clearly, the federal government policies, despite the difficulties being seen around the world, are still holding very strongly," Employment Minister Bill Shorten was quoted by News.com.au.  

However, he stood by previous government forecast that on the long-term 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.

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"No one is trying to sell some kind of blue sky scenario.... Plenty of people are still expecting unemployment to rise. People will be surprised by an unemployment rate with a four in front of it," Dow Jones quoted Mr Shorten.

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.

The 10,500 full-time jobs lost still 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.

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