Unemployment rate in Australia falls to 3.5%

Australia’s unemployment rate in June was 3.5%, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The ABS revised May’s rate down to 3.5%, not far shy of last October’s 3.4%, the lowest since the mid-1970s.

The rise in employment in June saw the employment-to-population ratio remain at a record high 64.5%.

The jobs figures along with June quarter inflation numbers due out next Wednesday will be examined closely by the Reserve Bank when its board meets on 1 August to consider extending its July pause in lifting interest rates.

The RBA’s 400 basis points of rate increases since May 2022 mark the sharpest tightening of monetary policy in three decades. In minutes of its July meeting noted “spare capacity in the labour market remained near multi-decade lows”, with job vacancies remaining “very high”.

The Australian dollar jumped a quarter of a US cent to 68.25 US cents on the news, implying investors revised higher their expectations for another RBA rate rise. In late afternoon trading, the dollar had strengthened further to be 68.33 US cents.

Listed companies, which are sensitive to higher borrowing costs, saw their share prices ease back, trimming the morning’s gain to 0.2%. The ASX 200 benchmark stock index ended flat for the day.

Of the jobs tally, the economy added 39,300 full-time positions last month and shed 6,700 part-time roles.