The federal government's narrow budget surplus may be in danger following a surprise jump in the unemployment rate in April.
The jobless rate lurched up to 3.7 per cent last month from a revised 3.6 per cent in March after the economy lost a net 4300 jobs.
While the result may give the Reserve Bank of Australia some reassurance that its action to dampen demand by raising interest rates is working, it could puncture government hopes of delivering the first budget surplus in 15 years.
Treasury has forecast a $4.2 billion surplus this financial year, underpinned by a huge revenue windfall thanks to soaring commodity prices and, even more importantly, a combination of higher income taxes and lower unemployment benefit payments from the tight labour market.
This outcome is based, in part, on the unemployment rate being at 3.5 per cent in the June quarter.
But Australian Bureau of Statistics figures suggest it may be a struggle to reach that number, given that in the first month of the quarter, the annual unemployment rate has already reached 3.7 per cent.
If it was to continue at that level, or increase, it may be difficult for the government to achieve the anticipated surplus.
But economists have called for caution in interpreting the data, which was collected over a period spanning the entire Easter break for the first time since 2015, and which contains some conflicting detail.
While the ABS found there was a 18,400-person jump in the unemployed, it also reported a 2.6 per cent jump in the number of hours worked - an outcome that suggests demand for workers actually intensified last month.
Westpac economists urged that the April job figures be analysed "with a degree of caution" because of the effect of Easter on the labour market and the jump in hours worked.
But Treasurer Jim Chalmers welcomed what he said was a "pretty remarkable" result.
"We've expected the unemployment rate to tick up a little bit - it has today - but it's still remarkably low given what's coming at us from around the world," the treasurer said.
In a statement marking the government's first year in office, has lauded the state of the economy.
"Australians have every right to be proud of what we have achieved together over the past year," the treasurer said. "Unemployment remains near a 50-year low, wages have started moving again and our economy is forecast to grow faster than any of the G7 major economies this year."
Confirmation that the labour market remained tight was welcomed by shadow treasurer Angus Taylor.
But Mr Taylor said the detail of the employment numbers was concerning.
"The reality embedded in these figures, is Australians having to work harder to make ends meet," he said.
"The hours worked ... have increased for Australians and we know why that is. On the one hand, employers are needing their workers to work more because they can't fill their vacancies.
"But on the other hand, Australians are having to work more to make ends meet and the reason for that is real wages have gone down under Labor."
The government expects a return to real wage growth from early next year as inflation slows.
But both it and the Reserve Bank predict unemployment will increase because of the effect of high interest rates in suppressing demand.
The government forecasts the jobless rate to be at 3.5 per cent in the middle of this year before rising to 4.25 per cent by mid next year and 4.5 per cent by June 2025.
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