Australia’s jobless rate unexpectedly fell to its lowest in four months in April but the number of people with full-time work declined – a mixed report that augurs poorly for a much-needed revival in wage growth and inflation. The unemployment rate slipped to 5.7 percent, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday, compared with analysts’ expectations for a steady 5.9 percent.
The 37,400-strong jump in jobs boosted the Australian dollar which rose a third of a U.S. cent to a two-week high.
However, all of the increase in job numbers came from part-time employment which soared 49,000 while full-time employment fell by 11,600, the data showed.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has repeatedly expressed worries about a “somewhat mixed” labour market. The minutes of its May policy meeting showed that board members had an in-depth discussion about the employment, including the increasing share of part-time work.
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The trend towards more part-time jobs is one reason wages are growing at a record low rate, undermining domestic consumption.
The RBA is constrained by the fear of spurring a debt binge in Australia’s red-hot property market if it lowered interest rates from the current record-low 1.50 percent. It has left rates unchanged since it last eased in August 2016.