RTTNews - Australia's unemployment rate reached a near six year high in June as employers reduced headcount.

The latest report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that the unemployment rate rose to 5.8% in June from 5.7% in May. The June rate was the highest since October 2003, but stood slightly below the expected rate of 5.9%.

The number of employed persons decreased 21,400 to 10.76 million in June. Economists were expecting a decline of 20,000. Full-time employment dropped 21,900 to 7.61 million, but part-time employment rose to 3.15 million.

The ABS revealed that the workforce participation rate measuring the labor force as a percentage of working-age persons at work or actively seeking work, slipped 0.2 percentage points to 65.3% in June.

Earlier this week, the Australian Fair Pay Commission had retained the minimum hourly wage rate at A$14.31 or A$543.78 per week. The commission also decided to keep the adult rates of pay according to the Australian pay scales at their current levels.

According to Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, the total number of job advertisements in newspapers and on the internet in Australia dropped for the 14th consecutive month in June, declining by 6.7% month-on-month to 127,346 per week. This follows a 0.2% fall in May.

Meanwhile, on July 7, the Reserve Bank of Australia announced that it is retaining its cash rate at a 49-year low of 3%, marking the third straight month the central bank made a status quo decision.

The Australian economy avoided a recession by expanding 0.4% sequentially in the first quarter, after shrinking about 0.5% in the prior quarter. Paris based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development expects around a 0.5% fall in Australian GDP during 2009.

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