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Australia reports 48-year-low jobless rate before election

19 May 2022, MVT 13:42
Voters queue up outside a pre-polling station in Berala electorate of Sydney on May 19, 2022, as Australians go to the polls on May 21 to decide who will run the country for the next three years. -- Photo: Saeed Khan / AFP
19 May 2022, MVT 13:42

Australia posted its lowest jobless rate in 48 years Thursday, a potential boost two days before federal elections to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is fighting to stay in power.

The unemployment rate dipped to 3.85 percent in April, the official statistics body said, the lowest level since 1974 -- when flared trousers were in fashion and US president Richard Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal.

Australia's economy created an additional 92,400 full-time jobs in the month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

That helped to trim April's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from 3.93 percent the previous month.

Many employers say they are struggling to find staff in the tight jobs market.

"We're definitely still feeling staff shortages," said Matt Jenkins, human resources manager at Sydney restaurant group Applejack Hospitality.

"I know for chefs, they can have multiple job offers at a time. And even candidates that we're speaking to, they're sitting on offers for weeks while they still canvass the market," he told AFP.

Bruno Goncalves, co-owner of Edes Restaurant and Bar in central Sydney, said he found it particularly hard to recruit experienced staff.

More foreign jobseekers were becoming available, he said, since the re-opening of Australia's international borders, which were shuttered for nearly two years to keep out the Covid-19 virus.

Those foreign candidates were mostly inexperienced, leaving the business with supervisory managers and "fresh, zero-experienced" workers but very few experienced bar and waiting staff.

Opinion polls show the ruling conservative coalition a little behind the opposition Labor Party in a tightening election race.

But surveys indicate the rising cost of living, not employment, is a priority for voters.

Opposition Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese's economic credentials have been questioned by Morrison, notably since he forgot the unemployment rate when quizzed by reporters more than a month ago.

Albanese has said he supports a rise in the minimum wage in line with inflation, which has shot up to 5.1 percent as prices soar in the shops, at gasoline stations and on the housing market.

© Agence France-Presse

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