Australia Jobless Rate Jumps Most in 18 Years


Australia’s unemployment rate jumped by the most in 18 years in March, adding to signs the nation is in its first recession in almost two decades.

The jobless rate rose to a five-year high of 5.7 percent from 5.2 percent, the statistics bureau said in Sydney today. The number of people employed dropped 34,700 from February. The median estimate of 22 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a decline of 25,000.

The number of full-time jobs dropped 38,900 in March and part-time employment increased 4,200 today’s report showed.

With the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecasting the steepest economic contraction in more than 50 years across its member nations, demand for resources has slowed from the world’s biggest shipper of iron ore and coal, forcing mining companies to fire workers.

Rio Tinto will cut 705 jobs at projects in Queensland state, the world’s third largest mining company said on April 7. Iluka, the world’s biggest zircon producer, said the same day it will curtail production of the material by 20 percent this year, cutting 135 jobs at its Western Australia operations.
Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest construction and mining equipment maker, will fire 280 workers in Burnie, Tasmania, the Age newspaper reported on April 7.

Jobs advertised in newspapers and on the Internet dropped in March for an 11th month, slumping 8.5 percent from February, a report showed on April 6. Advertisements fell a record 44.6 percent from a year earlier.

More than half of Australia’s mining and resource companies will fire staff in the next 12 months after the economy shrank 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter, the first decline in eight years, according to a survey of 118 companies released last month by the Australian Mines and Metals Association. The central bank says the economy will contract this year.


TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
4/8/2009 7:33:23 PM