Australian Unemployment Jumps to 10-Year High

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Australia’s unemployment rate climbed to the highest in more than 10 years in January, spurring traders to pare bets on an interest-rate increase and sending the Aussie to its biggest drop in almost three weeks. The jobless rate rose to 6 percent from 5.8 percent, the statistics bureau said in Sydney. The median estimate was an increase to 5.9 percent in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The number of people employed fell by 3,700. International carmakers Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have announced the shuttering of plants and shedding of jobs in Australia as the high cost of production and a strong currency render them uncompetitive. The Reserve Bank of Australia cut the overnight cash-rate target by 2.25 percentage points between late 2011 and August to a record-low 2.5 percent to help offset the currency and spur industries outside mining, where an investment boom is waning. “There’s no spinning it, Australia’s labour market is weak,” said Katrina Ell, an economist at Moody’s Analytics in Sydney. “Businesses are not confident in future economic conditions so are trimming jobs and working their existing staff harder.” Read more.