Unemployment rises to 5.2% in February: Midday roundup

Unemployment rises to 5.2% in February

The unemployment rate has risen to 5.2% in February, driven by fewer part-time jobs.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the total number of jobs in Australia dropped by 15,400, or 0.1%, to 11.44 million during February.

According to an AAP survey of 17 economists, a rise of 5000 jobs had been predicted.

Part-time employment fell by 15,400 to 3,380,400. Full-time employment remained steady.

The participation rate fell by 0.1 points to 65.2%, although expectations had been that it would remain steady.

Too early for flood impact estimates, Swan says

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan says it’s too early to estimate how the New South Wales floods will affect the federal budget.

“Certainly here (in NSW) in terms of agriculture there will be a significant impact, but in terms of impact more widely, it’s far too early to tell,” Swan told ABC Radio.

“That’s part of the budget process that we go though over the next couple of months,” he said.

The comment come after national accounts showed GDP growth slowed to just 0.4% in the December quarter. As a result, corporate revenues are falling.

“What we are seeing is the continuing impact and aftermath of the global financial crisis, the impact of the cautious consumer and the impacts of the events in Europe on business confidence,” Swan said.

Shares up after strong overseas leads, but dollar down on jobs data

The Australian sharemarket has opened this morning after positive leads from overseas markets due to optimism the Greek debt deal will continue to be finalised.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 17 points or 0.4% to 4160.2 at 12.00 AEST, although the Australian dollar fell to $US1.05c after the ABS announced the increase in unemployment.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 78 points or 0.6% to 12,837.

Metcash says conditions worst in 10 years

Andrew Reitzer, chief executive of the grocery wholesaler Metcash, says the current oversupply of produce and the price wars between major supermarkets has resulted in the worst conditions in a decade.

“This is a tough business and we’re in a market against two giants that have somewhere close to 80% market share and there’s no place for nice guys and there’s no time,” Reitzer told the Australian Financial Review.

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