Australia’s unemployment picture worsened, exacerbating the central bank’s dilemma over whether to give the economy a boost by further cutting interest rates, or to back off to avoid fanning inflation and prevent a surging property market from overheating.
The number of people in full-time work fell by 22,600 in December, government data showed Thursday, capping the worst year for jobs growth in almost two decades.
And although the unemployment rate stayed at 5.8% in December, equal to November, that was only because the number of people seeking work fell to 64.6%, the lowest level in more than seven years.
The Australian dollar fell by nearly one U.S. cent to US$0.8800 after the employment report, its lowest point in almost 31/2 years. The drop extended the Aussie\’s fall against the U.S. dollar over the past 12 months to 17%–making it the worst-performing major currency in that period.
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