Australian Employment Rises 25,400


Australian employment rose in April for a record 18th month as mining companies such as BHP-Billiton Ltd. hired workers to meet Chinese demand for iron ore and coal.

Employers added 25,400 staff, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney today. The median estimate of 25 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 10,000 gain. The jobless rate rose to 4.2 percent from 4.1 percent as more people looked for work.

An economic expansion now in its 17th year has created a skills shortage that threatens to drive up wages. Concern that rising salaries will further stoke inflation, already at the highest rate since 1991, was a key reason Governor Glenn Stevens raised the benchmark interest rate in March to a 12-year high.

The number of full-time positions rose 19,000 in April, today's report showed. Part-time jobs advanced 6,300. About half of Australia's 21 million people are employed.

The Reserve Bank left the benchmark rate unchanged this week for a second month to gauge fallout from the global credit squeeze and tumbling consumer confidence. The bank raised borrowing costs in March, February, November and August.

Any evidence that a shortage of workers is driving up wages may prompt the Reserve Bank to revise its view that the economy is slowing enough to cool inflation, Stevens said this week after leaving the benchmark rate at 7.25 percent for a second month.

Annual core inflation accelerated to 4.4 percent in the first quarter from 3.1 percent in the previous three months. The Reserve Bank aims to keep inflation between 2 percent and 3 percent on average.

Positions advertised in newspapers and on the Internet climbed 3.1 percent from March to an average 275,390 a week, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. said on May 5.

Still, recent reports suggest the $1 trillion economy is slowing. March home-building approvals fell six times as much as economists forecast, sales of newly built houses dropped for a second month and consumer confidence plunged in April to the lowest since 1993.

Gross domestic product slowed to 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, when it expanded 1.1 percent.

Evidence the economy is slowing may prompt employers to review hiring plans. Companies remained pessimistic about the economy in March for a record third month after Australia's stock market tumbled in the first quarter by the most since 1987.


TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
5/7/2008 7:00:09 PM