Jobless rate climbs to 5-year high at 5.7 percent

Australia's jobless rate has hit a 5-year high of 5.7 percent following a record monthly gain in March

By Jayne Munday

Australia’s jobless rate has hit a 5-year high of 5.7 percent following a record monthly gain in March, with almost 40,000 full-time workers losing their jobs.

About 650,900 people are now out of work, including 38,900 full-timers, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The global financial crisis has sparked particular movement in the labour force, with recent trends indicating a transition of employees from full-time employment to part-time employment.

Although full-time employment continued to decline over the February-March period, employers hired another 4,200 part-time workers. The ABS says the climb in part-time workers is due to a transition of former full-timers.

The statistics show the 250,000 people that were employed part-time in February upgraded to full-time work in March.

But the figure did little to offset the spike in unemployment, with the ABS saying 203,000 people employed in February were not in the labour force in March.

The 34,700 decrease in gross unemployment was therefore due to people moving directly out of the work force.

The latest unemployment figures continue to push Australia’s workforce into negative territory, as the unyielding economic climate of 2009 continues.

The jobless rate has jumped more than one percent in less than four months, from 4.4 percent in December last year to 5.7 percent in March.

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