Australian unemployment rate falls to 5.6 pct in March

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CANBERRA, April 15 (Xinhua) — Australia’s unemployment rate has continued to fall after more than 70,000 people found work in March.

According to labor force data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday, the unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in March, down from 5.8 percent in February.

Unemployment is now only 0.4 percent higher than it was in March 2020 when restrictions were first introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The participation rate, which measures the percentage of the working-age population who are either employed or actively looking for work, stands at 66.3 percent. It is around all-time high according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the data proved the government’s plan for Australia’s economic recovery from the pandemic was working.

“Employment is up. Participation is up. Hours worked is up and there are more Australians in work today than ever before,” he told reporters.

“Australia’s jobs market, Australia’s labor market, is recovering 4.5 times faster than the experience of the labor market during the 1990s recession.”

However, the data was collected prior to the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme at the end of March.

Treasury warned earlier in March that between 100,000 and 150,000 people who had been relying on the scheme during the pandemic could become unemployed when it ended.

Frydenberg acknowledged that sectors such as tourism would be hit hard by the end of JobKeeper but said ending the scheme was the “right” decision.

“Treasury’s advice to us was that JobKeeper had to come to an end because there were a number of characteristics with that program that would have a perverse impact across the economy, preventing labor mobility, people moving to new jobs, if we had left it in place,” he said. Enditem

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