S/Africa's unemployment rate at 26.7% - Agency

Credit gstockstudio 123RF Stock

Credit gstockstudio 123RF Stock

The agricultural sector recorded 3,000 job losses, it said, noting that the expanded unemployment rate increased by 0.4 of a percentage point in the first quarter, to 36.7% quarter-to-quarter.

But the unemployment rate rose to 5.6% last month, up from 5.5% seen in March.

AMP Capital senior economist Diana Mousina said this was due to a slight rise in the participation rate - a measure of the number of people working or looking for work - to 65.6 per cent.

The Australian dollar has been boosted by the data, trading at 75.27 USA cents at 1200 AEST, up from 75.18 United States cents just prior to the release. Participation in the workforce has never been higher, led by stronger participation by women and older Australians, but the unemployment rate continues to drift slowly upwards.

Overall, 22,600 net new jobs were added in April, topping forecasts of 20,000.

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But Labor has been quick to douse any celebrations, pointing out the jobless rate is roughly the same as it was four and half years ago and that wages growth remains close to a two-decade low.

The strength of employment has been one of the brightest parts of the economy but the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is awaiting a steady decline in the jobless rate and a revival in wage growth before considering an end to its easy policy.

Meanwhile, the S&P/ASX 200 index traded 0.20 percent lower at 6,098.5 by 03:35 GMT, while at 03:00GMT, the FxWirePro's Hourly AUD Strength Index remained highly bullish at 135.87 (a reading above +75 indicates a bullish trend, while that below -75 a bearish trend).

RBA Governor Philip Lowe recently told lawmakers that average wage annual increases need to be around 3.5 percent to achieve average inflation of 2.5 percent - the midpoint of its long-term target band.

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