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Unemployment rate falls to 6.1pc

Australia’s labour market ended 2014 on a positive note, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage points to 6.1 per cent in December last year, while the participation rate increased by less than 0.1 percentage points to 64.8 per cent.

The number of people employed increased by 37,400 to 11,679,400, which represented a 1.9 per cent increase on the previous year.

This was driven by a rise in full-time employment for both females and males – up 23,300 and 18,200 respectively.

The ABS said the increase in full-time employment was marginally offset by a fall in part-time employment – down 4,100.

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Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk said the increase in employment contradicted the bank’s forecast of a fall of 10,000 jobs.

Mr Smirk said leading indicators suggested that total employment growth should have ended the year at around 1.5 per cent before rising to 2.0 per cent in early 2015.

“We have now seen this lift almost fully realised,” he said.

“While it is possible for employment growth to overshoot the leading indicator in the short run, during the last few months the employment indicators in the various business surveys have dipped below their long-run average.

“The bump in the pace of employment growth may prove fleeting in 2015.”

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