Finance Work Fall in the jobless rate shocks economists
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Fall in the jobless rate shocks economists

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Centrelink has been told to suspend its controversial "robo-debt" program. Photo: AAP
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In a pleasant economic surprise, the unemployment rate has fallen to 6 per cent in May.

It’s the second month in a row that the jobless rate has fallen, putting it now on a downward trend.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that both the seasonally adjusted and the trend unemployment rates fell by 0.1 percentage points to 6 per cent.

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The number of people employed increased by a staggering 42,000 to 11,759,600. That’s more than twice as big a rise as was expected.

The ABS said the increase in employment was driven by increases in part-time employment for women (up 29,800) and full-time employment for men (up 15,900).

The seasonally adjusted labour force participation rate was unchanged at 64.7 per cent in May 2015 from a revised April estimate.

The number of people unemployed decreased by 22,000, and now stands at 745,200. However, this figure was driven by a decrease in the number of unemployed people who looked for full-time work, which decreased by 23,500 to 514,500.

“The seasonally adjusted underemployment rate was 8.5 per cent in May 2015, unchanged from February 2015,” the ABS said. “Combined with the unemployment rate of 6.0 per cent, the latest seasonally adjusted estimate of total labour force underutilisation was 14.5 per cent in May 2015, a decrease of 0.4 percentage points from February 2015.”

Some commentators have reacted with skepticism to the new data, as the ABS was forced to revise previous reports due to a statistical error.

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