Australian unemployment rises to 6%

<p>Australia’s unemployment rate has grown to its highest level since July 2003.</p>

The amount of people out of work in Australia has grown to six per cent over January, according to official figures.

A report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday (February 13th) showed that the country's unemployment rate now stands at its highest level since July 2003. This was after the figure for December was unrevised at 5.8 per cent and highlights a growing problem in the nation. The amount of people in employment fell by 3,700 to 11.46 million over the course of January putting the median forecast for unemployment at 5.9 per cent for January.

The Australian government has been keen to improve the current state of the country's economy and has been encouraged by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to keep its interest rates at the current low rate. A recent report by the Washington-based organisation upgraded the growth forecasts from 2.5 per cent to 2.6 per cent but stated that monetary policy would be key to managing the economic demand in the near future as the government attempts to reduce the budget deficit.

Australia's participation rate, the proportion of the population that either have a job, are looking for work or are ready to start work, remained stable reaching a figure of 64.5 per cent. However, it is still a pressing matter for the government to address the growing unemployment problem the country is experiencing.

Commenting on the figures, Paul Bloxham, chief economist at HSBC, told the Financial Times: "Today’s employment numbers were disappointing. There is no denying that the labour market is weak. Taken alone, today’s data paint a weak picture of economic conditions.”

The IMF's forecast does not paint a positive picture for Australia as it believes that the country will not show signs of recovery until 2017. Officials explained that the southern hemisphere nation is not predicted to reach its long-term trend of three per cent for at least three years.

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