Unemployment stagnant, just 500 new jobs

The unemployment rate remained at 5.2 per cent in June, with just 500 extra jobs created.
The unemployment rate remained at 5.2 per cent in June, with just 500 extra jobs created.

Just 500 extra jobs were created in Australia in June as the unemployment rate stubbornly refused to budge from 5.2 per cent.

The federal government talked up the full-time employment figures, which now stand at a record high of 8,815,600 and 2.9 per cent higher than a year ago.

But the Labor opposition said the Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed underemployment was too high, leaving many struggling to meet the cost of living.

The number of employed persons rose by a smaller-than-expected 500 in June to 12.87 million, with a 21,100 increase in people with full-time work offsetting a 20,600 decrease in people with part-time work.

"Today's data continue to reflect a strong labour market and highlight the success of the government's efforts to stimulate ongoing, sustainable jobs growth, even in the face of significant global and domestic headwinds," Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said on Thursday.

Senator Cash said it was encouraging to see full-time employment figures rise.

But Labor's employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor said both unemployment and underemployment were still stubbornly too high.

"There are more than 1.8 million Australians looking for work, or more work, but unable to find it," Mr O'Connor said.

He said the underemployment rate of 8.2 per cent meant too many people wanted more hours at work but couldn't find them.

"The Reserve Bank, backed by economists and state governments, has implored the government to lift investment in infrastructure to give the economy a shot in the arm, but the government has failed to act," Mr O'Connor said.

NAB economist Kaixin Owyong said unless employment and inflation figures moved in the right direction, the Reserve Bank might be forced to cut rates below one per cent.

"Barring a surprisingly weak inflation print in two weeks, we continue to forecast another rate cut ... in November, albeit with risk of an earlier move," Ms Owyong said.

Minutes from the RBA's July board meeting showed members have left the door open for a third rate cut to 0.75 per cent as the central bank seeks to eat into spare capacity and stimulate economic growth.

Australian Associated Press