Australia Unemployment Falls Further as Recovery Intensifies

Australia’s unemployment rate declined in January as a second round of central bank stimulus combined with a big-spending government budget accelerated the economy’s recovery and further boosted hiring, Bloomberg News reported. The jobless rate fell to 6.4% from 6.6% in December, versus economists’ estimate of 6.5%, data from the statistics bureau showed Thursday in Sydney. Employment advanced by 29,100 in January, compared with an expected 30,000 gain, driven by the state of Victoria that’s still rebounding from its second lockdown. The participation rate was 66.1%, slightly below the forecast 66.2%. “Australia has recouped almost all the jobs lost in April/May 2020 at the depths of the recession and nationwide lockdown,” said Su-Lin Ong, head of Australian economic and fixed-income strategy at Royal Bank of Canada. “While the unemployment rate remains higher, it is heading in the right direction.” Australia is experiencing a V-shaped recovery as the relative containment of Covid-19 boosts confidence and encourages cashed-up households to spend. That’s prompted firms to resume hiring and swelled the labor force back to near its pre-pandemic level. The Reserve Bank of Australia earlier this month announced it was extending its quantitative easing program by a further A$100 billion ($77.6 billion) and said it doesn’t expect to increase interest rates until 2024. Read more.