Unemployment drops to 5.7pc with over 26,000 jobs added in July, says ABS
The unemployment rate has dropped to 5.7 per cent, with the Bureau of Statistics estimating that 26,200 jobs were added in July.
The headline result was better than the market expected, sending the Australian dollar up around half a cent at one point, to a peak of 77 US cents shortly after the data release at 11:30am (AEST).
The 26 economists surveyed by Bloomberg typically expected 10,000 jobs to be added, leaving unemployment steady at 5.8 per cent.
However, the data were not unambiguously positive, with jobs growth entirely driven by part-time employment, while full-time jobs fell.
Part-time employment rose by an estimated 71,600, while the number of full-time workers dropped by 45,400.
"The latest Labour Force release shows continued strength in part-time employment growth," said Jacqui Jones, the program manager of ABS' Labour and Income Branch.
"Over the past six months there has been an increase of 82,600 people working part-time, compared with a 21,600 decrease in those working full-time."
Commonwealth Bank chief economist Michael Blythe told Reuters that the mixed outcome probably would not shift the Reserve Bank's economic and interest rate outlook.
"There's obviously still a degree a weakness in a heavy skew towards part-time employment this month, which is a trend we've seen through this year, which does suggest there's a certain amount of slack in the labour force and we saw that reflected I suppose in the very low wages we had yesterday," he said.
"I think the implication [for the RBA] is more about wages and inflation and that slack points to inflation remaining low."
Economist Jim Stanford, who heads The Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work, said the proportion of part-time workers has now reached a fresh record high of 31.9 per cent.
Despite the rise in part-time employment and fall in full-time, total hours worked edged higher.
The participation rate - the proportion of people in work or looking for it - remained steady at 64.9 per cent.