Unemployment rises as more look for work: Economy round-up

A rise on the number of people looking for work has triggered a small rise in Australia’s unemployment rate to 4.1%.

Despite an additional 5300 full time and 9500 part-time jobs being created in March, the introduction of an additional 26,000 job seekers pushed the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate up 0.1%.

A fall in jobs is one thing the Reserve Bank of Australia will be looking for as concrete evidence that higher interest rates are taking some heat out of the Australian economy, but today’s results reflect an increase in participation rather than slowing activity.

High interest rates are likely to exacerbate Australia’s housing shortage as new building starts slow.

According to the ANZ housing snapshot released today, there will be a startling 35,000 strong mismatch between demand for homes and supply in 2007-08.

By 2009, ANZ says, the housing shortage will reach unprecedented levels, with an increase in demand and slight fall in supply pushing the shortfall closer to 50,000 homes.

On the markets today, at 12.15pm the S&P/ASX200 is down 1.2% on yesterday’s close to 5452.1. Trading this morning has followed the pattern of recent days, with rising resource stock prices being outweighed by falling financial stocks.

Some grim comments on the outlook for the US economy revealed in the minutes of the most recent US Federal Reserve Board meeting released overnight by also haven’t helped, sending sentiment lower and the US Dow Jones Index down 0.39% to 12527.26.

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