Total employment rose by 27,300, to 10.

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799 million, seasonally adjusted. Full-time employment increased by 49,100 to 7.673 million, while part-time figures dropped 21,800 to 3,126 million.

The participation rate in April was 65.4 per cent, compared with 65.5 per cent in March.

Economists had expected total employment to decline by 25,000, an unemployment rate of 5.9 per cent and participation rate of 65.4 per cent.

Earlier, Treasurer Wayne Swan warned of dire times to come, predicting the numbers of Australians without jobs would rise in future.

\’High unemployment\’ to come

“I hope they don\’t go up today but I think that the slowing of growth will be reflected in the figures that we see in the period ahead,” Mr Swan told ABC Radio.

“I don\’t think there\’s any doubt the slowing of growth and the sharp global contraction is leading to high unemployment.”

But Mr Swan said unemployment in Australia was likely to be lower than other parts of the world, saying the government\’s stimulus packages were working.

“What we do know is that economic stimulus has cushioned the impact of that savage global contraction and the consequence of that is unemployment here is going to be much lower than it will be in many other parts of the world,” he said.

Regional picture mixed

According to the ABS figures, the largest fall in unemployment was in New South Wales, where the rate dropped to 6.0 per cent in April from 6.8 per cent in March, following a spike from 5.9 per cent in February.

The jobless rate in South Australia declined to 5.5 per cent from 5.9 per cent and in Western Australia it fell to 4.5 per cent from 4.9 per cent.

Still, in Tasmania the jobless rate shot to a staggering 6.2 per cent in April from just 4.4 per cent in March.

In Queensland the rate rose to 4.9 per cent from 4.8 per cent and in the ACT it was 2.8 per cent versus 2.7 per cent previously.

Rates in Victoria and the Northern Territory were both unchanged at 5.6 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.