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Australia Jobless Rate Rises In October

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Australia's jobless rate rose marginally in October, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed on Thursday.

The jobless rate rose to a seasonally adjusted 5.3 percent in October from 5.2 percent in September. That was in line with economists' expectations.

The number of unemployed persons increased to a seasonally adjusted 726,100 in October from 709,000 in the preceding month. The latest figure was the highest since April 2018.

The seasonally adjusted underemployment rate increased 0.2 points to 8.5 percent in October.

The participation rate was 66.0 percent in October. Economists had expected a 66.1 percent.

The seasonally adjusted number of employed persons decreased by 19,000 in October to a three-month low of 12.91 million.

Economists had expected a 15,000 increase. In the previous month, employment grew by a downward revised 12,500 persons.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 2.8 million hours, or 0.2 percent, to 1,783.9 million hours.

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio decreased by 0.2 points to 62.5 percent in October, and increased by 0.2 points from the same month last year.

The consumer confidence survey results from Westpac on Wednesday revealed that the unemployment expectations sub-index increased 3.6 percent to 136.5 in November, marking the highest reading since June 2017. This suggest that more consumers expect joblessness to rise in the year ahead.

Commenting on Thursday's labor force data, Westpac economist Justin Smirk said, "While today's update was weaker than we were anticipating, it was not enough to change our view that the labor market is softening gradually which will drive a modest gradual rise in unemployment and underemployment."

"The Australian economy is a long way away from the RBA's full employment aim of 4.5 percent and if the Bank wants to use monetary policy to drive the economy in that direction, it has a lot more work to do."

The economist expects that the gradual pace of the deterioration will allow the RBA time to monitor the economy before having to act again.

The RBA is widely expected to hold rates steady in the next policy session on December 3.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Australia's inflation expectations and actual pay growth increased in November, results of a survey by the Melbourne Institute revealed.

The expected inflation rate, which is the 30-percent trimmed mean measure, increased by 0.4 percentage points in November to 4.0 percent, the Melbourne Institute Survey of Consumer Inflationary and Wage Expectations showed. Economists had forecast an easing to 3.2 percent.

Total pay growth over the past 12 months climbed to 1.9 percent in November from 1.8 percent in October.

"Given the inherent volatility in wage expectations, the data continue to suggest a relatively flat growth rate for the Wage Price Index (WPI) in the coming year," the Melbourne Institute said.

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