Unemployment rate eases to 5.5 pct

The unemployment rate eased to 5.5 per cent in April, despite a fall in the number of people employed.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics revised up the jobless rate for March to 5.7 per cent from 5.6 per cent.

The number of people employed in the month declined by 30,600, compared to a 20,000 increase forecast by economists.

It was the first report since the JobKeeper wage subsidy ended in March.

The ABS said the end of JobKeeper did not have a discernible impact on employment between March and April.

“We have not seen large changes in the indicators that would suggest a clear JobKeeper impact,” ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said.

“Some of the 31,000 fall in employment may relate to the end of JobKeeper, but it could also reflect usual month-to-month variation in the labour market and some larger than usual seasonal changes similar to those we saw earlier in the year.”

In a speech this week, Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy was more optimistic about what impact the end of JobKeeper might have on employment, having previously estimated up to 150,000 jobs could be lost.

Dr Kennedy said the early indications are that while there have been job losses, many workers appear to have already found employment thanks to the strong labour market.

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