Australian unemployment rate falls sharply in May

In seasonally adjusted terms, the number of full time jobs rose by 52,000, while part time employment fell by 10,000.

The economy is adjusting to the end of a resource boom and the central bank has cut its benchmark rate to a record-low 1.5 per cent in order to encourage firms to borrow and hire.

Australia's jobless rate fell to four-year lows in May as hiring blew past all expectations for a third straight month, the most emphatic sign yet that the labour market was hitting its stride after an alarmingly long dormant period.

The job-market data now comes into line with upbeat business surveys and strong forward-looking employment indicators. Two strong results are viewed with cautious optimism.

Monthly hours worked across all jobs increased by 2.9 million hours last month, official data showed.

But the underutilisation rate "is still fairly elevated by recent standards".

CommSec chief economist Craig James said the positive employment trend would provide momentum for the economy, as May's job creation follows nearly 100,000 jobs being added across March and April.

Royal Bank of Canada fixed income and currency strategist Michael Turner said the RBA would now have a more comfortable view of the labour market - and its holding stance on rates - after three months of employment growth.

Western Australia has recorded a positive result in its unemployment numbers, recording the biggest uptake in new jobs around the country in May alongside South Australia. In May 934,100 people in the state were in full-time employment, reaching its highest level since May 2015. Part-time jobs decreased by 10,100 in May after rising 49,000 the month before. The data supports the view that there is underlying strength in the economy even after Australian GDP grew at its slowest on-year pace since 2009 in the first quarter.

  • Zachary Reyes