The jobless rate unexpectedly held at 5.


8 per cent for a third straight month in August, despite the number of people in work declining, new data shows.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said 27,100 jobs, seasonally adjusted, were lost in August, larger than the 15,000 predicted by economists.

The number of people in full-time work dropped by a hefty 30,800. Economists’ forecasts had also centred on the unemployment rate edging up to 5.9 per cent.

The federal government in the May budget had forecast a jobless rate of 8.25 per cent by June next year.

The jobless rate in NSW was unchanged at 6.1 per cent, and was also static in the Northern Territory at 4.2 per cent and the ACT at 3.6 per cent.

However, it jumped to 5.1 per cent in Tasmania from 4.1 per cent the previous month, and increased to 6.3 per cent from 5.9 per cent in Victoria.

The unemployment rate also rose to 5.8 per cent from 5.7 per cent in South Australia. In Western Australia the jobless rate fell to 5.4 per cent from 5.7 per cent and in Queensland it declined to 5.5 per cent from 5.7 per cent.

Troubling aspects to jobs numbers: Gillard

Employment Minister Julia Gillard said there are troubling aspects to the latest jobs figures, even though they show the August unemployment rate remaining static.

She highlighted the drop in the number of people in employment, which was down by 27,000, in excess of market expectation of 15,000 jobs.

The figures showed Australians were suffering the effects of the global recession, Ms Gillard said.

“(There’s a) need to continue economic stimulus to support jobs during these difficult times,” she said, adding the full impact of the global economic downturn on employment would take some time to show.

“We do anticipate that unemployment will continue to rise.”

In the meantime, the government would continue to provide economic stimulus.

“These figures are demonstrating that to call for an end to economic stimulus would be to pull the rug out from the Australian economy and to risk greater unemployment.”