Australia's unemployment rate spiked to a 12-year high of 6.4 percent in July, data showed Thursday, lowering expectations of a near-term hike in interest rates as the economy shows signs of weakness.
The surprise jump in the jobless rate, which was up from the decade-high of 6.0 percent in June, saw 300 positions lost from the economy, the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed.
Full-time positions increased by 14,500 but 14,800 part-time roles were shed. Analysts had expected 12,000 jobs to be added in the month.
The Australian dollar lost more than half a cent after the data was released, falling from 93.55 US cents to 92.96 US cents.
The participation rate, which measures the proportion of adults in work or looking for it, lifted by 0.1 percentage points to 64.8 percent.
Economists said the figures, which were well above consensus forecasts of 6.1 percent, were worse-than-expected. The latest data also meant Australia's jobless rate was above the United States' for the first time since 2007.
But ANZ senior economist Justin Fabo said the headline figure could be overstating the weakness of the labour market, pointing to other employment indicators which have suggested that companies' hiring intentions were improving.
"Most other labour market indicators are improving, at least slowly, so the jump in the unemployment rate does look odd in that regard," Fabo said.
"We'll need the August report to confirm that view."