Australia's Jobless Rate Falls Unexpectedly

09/16/2020 | 10:14pm

By James Glynn

 

SYDNEY--Australia's unemployment rate fell sharply in August as job creation soared, defying the gloomy economic outlook due to the fresh imposition of lockdowns in the key state of Victoria.

The unemployment rate fell to 6.8% in August from 7.5% in July, as the economy added 111,000 jobs, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Thursday.

Economists had expected the loss of 35,000 jobs and the jobless rate to climb to 7.7% in August.

The number of part-time jobs rose by 74,800, while full-time employment rose 36,200, the ABS said.

Economists said the opening up of most states from lockdowns, which were first imposed in March, more than offset the drag from Victoria.

The number of people employed in Victoria decreased by 42,400 in August. In contrast, New South Wales recorded an increase of 51,500 employed people while Western Australia saw an increase of 32,200 people employed, the ABS said.

A second wave of Covid-19 infections hit Victoria hard in August, forcing shutdowns of firms in the state's capital of Melbourne, while constraints on movement, including border closures, affected farming regions of the state.

The job figures come after official data showed that Australia's economy contracted by a record 7.0% in the second quarter. Concerns about a rise in virus cases in Victoria have cast a cloud over the expected pace of the economic rebound in the second half of this year.

 

Write to James Glynn at james.glynn@wsj.com

 

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