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Australian unemployment rate rises, economy sheds jobs

Thursday 11th December 2008

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Australia's unemployment rate rose as the economy shed jobs, adding to signs that a recession in the world's biggest nations is starting to undermine the domestic economy.

The jobless rate climbed to 4.4%, the highest in a year, from 4.3%, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The number of people employed fell 15,600. Economists had expected the jobless rate to reach 4.5% and the economy to shed 15,000 jobs.

"There is a sense that weaker jobs growth is inevitable," economists at Westpac Banking Corp. said in a report.

Rio Tinto Group this week announced it would eliminate 14,000 jobs amid softening global demand for raw materials. China, one of the biggest consumers of Australia's minerals, yesterday announced that its exports and imports unexpectedly fell last month. Signs of a worsening slump in Europe included dwindling industrial output in Italy and France in October.

Australia's economy grew just 0.1% last quarter, the most feeble expansion in about eight years.

The number of part-time jobs decreased 24,400 in November and full-time employment gained 8,800 from October, according to the statistics bureau.

By Jonathan Underhill

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