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Australian economy stays strong despite employment fall: Treasurer

Canberra, Jan 19 (IANS) Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Thursday said the country’s economy is in a strong position despite a surprise fall in jobs.

According to December 2022 labour force data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) earlier on Thursday, employment decreased by 15,000 people from November, reports Xinhua news agency.

Economists had forecast that the number of jobs would grow by approximately 22,000.

Despite the fall, the official unemployment rate remained steady at 3.5 percent.

Responding to the data, Chalmers said Australia was entering a period of global economic turmoil from a “position of genuine strength”.

“We’ve created 212,000 jobs under the life of this relatively new Albanese Labor government and that puts us in good stead,” he told reporters.

However, Chalmers warned that the government expects the global turndown and high interest rates to soften the Australian economy in 2023.

“We expect to see that in the unemployment rate in the coming months, as we made clear in the budget in October,” he said.

“The treasury forecast is for employment growth to ease and for the unemployment rate to edge up a little bit, but to still remain around these historic lows, which put us in such good stead as we confront the slowing global economy.”

The ABS revealed that 606,000 Australians worked reduced hours due to illness in December, 50 per cent higher than the long-term average.

The underemployment rate, which measures the portion of employed people who are not working as many hours as they would like, rose to 6.1 per cent.

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