(Bloomberg) — Australian unemployment unexpectedly fell as fiscal and monetary stimulus helped the labor market withstand Victoria’s renewed lockdown, with more than half of the jobs lost from the pandemic now recovered.
The jobless rate dropped to 6.8% in August from 7.5% a month earlier versus a median estimate of an increase to 7.7%, data from the statistics bureau showed Thursday in Sydney. Employment surged by 111,000 in August, with all states and territories outside of Victoria gaining, and completely wrong-footing analyst estimates of 35,000 drop.
The data’s strength was surprising because the period spanned Melbourne’s shift to Stage 4 restrictions and a curfew to contain a rapidly spreading outbreak, as well as nervousness in neighboring New South Wales that it was headed down the same path. The labor market’s ability to absorb this weakness and maintain its recovery is testament to the government’s signature JobKeeper employment subsidy — that