A soft answer to jobs ire

Unemployment figures are softer than last year but they're not weak. It'll take much more than this for the Reserve Bank to consider any rate cuts.

Employment rose a nice 10,400 in January, while unemployment was steady at a lowish 5.4 per cent. But hours worked eased a touch, reflecting the solid growth in part-time jobs versus a slight pullback in full-time employment. Jobs growth has been moderate in the last half year or so, but the softness is clearly less than either Treasury or the Reserve Bank has been anticipating.

Perhaps the best way to sum things up is that the unemployment rate, which hovered broadly in a 5 per cent to 5.25 per cent range over 2011 and the first half of 2012, is now hovering in a 5.25 per cent to 5.5 per cent range.

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