Australia's jobless rate unexpectedly rose Thursday to 5.3 percent, its highest level in almost a year, as the mining-powered economy showed signs of flagging, shedding 9,700 jobs. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said unemployment jumped for a second straight month in August, exceeding the steady 5.1 percent expected by economists, who had tipped 11,000 jobs to be created, not losses. Job cuts in the past month have been partly due to the strong Australian dollar, which is hurting manufacturers and inbound tourism, and tough world markets. Domestic conditions have also weakened, with consumer sentiment and retail sales down due to renewed global turmoil on debt fears in the United States and Europe. The housing market is also notably softer. Australia's economy shrank in the first quarter of 2011 due to unprecedented flooding and cyclones which hit mining and agriculture exports, but rebounded strongly to record 1.2 percent growth in the three months to June. Canberra has forecast unemployment to fall to 4.5 percent by mid-2013.