The rate of unemployment fell to 6.1 per cent in March, confounding economists’ expectations that it would remain at 6.2 per cent.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the 0.1 percentage point drop just a day after the International Monetary Fund predicted unemployment to stay well above 6 per cent until 2016.
The news immediately caused the dollar to jump from just over 77 US cents to closer to 78 cents. However it soon dropped to 0.774 US cents.
The ABS said the number of people employed increased in March by 37,700, reaching 11,720,300.
The number of men in full-time employment increased by 24,800, while the number of women in full-time employment increased by 6,700.
The total number of hours worked in March were 1.73 billion.
While the surprise drop in unemployment is potentially very good news for the economy, in trend terms it represents no change, at 6.2 per cent.
Nevertheless, the March figure is far below the IMF’s forecast that unemployment will average at 6.4 per cent for 2015.
Responding to the figures, Employment Minister Eric Abetz said: “We are absolutely determined to create every possible opportunity to create jobs in Australia,” adding that he devotes “every waking moment” to achieving this goal.