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June 11, 2009 – 6:52AM

Economists are expecting today’s official job figures for May to show a sharp jump in the unemployment rate.

The jobless rate is tipped to bounce back to at least 5.7 per cent, where it stood in March and prior to the questionable fall to 5.4 per cent in April.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard is sticking with the May budget forecast that sees the unemployment rate soaring to 8.5 per cent by mid-2011, leaving one million people in the dole queue.

On Wednesday, the Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index for June surged 12.7 per cent, the second largest increase since the survey began in 1974 and the largest increase in 22 years.

The national accounts – released last week – showed gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.4 per cent in the first three months of the year.

The economy thus avoided a second straight quarter of negative growth, which would have meant it was in a technical recession.

http://business.theage.com.au/business/brace-for-unemployment-rise-20090611-c3v6.html

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