Australia's unemployment rate held steady at 5.7 percent in July but the economy shed 10,200 jobs in further signs of a major mining slowdown unwelcome to ruling Labor's re-election hopes.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged last month, beating expectations of a spike to 5.8 percent.
But the overall picture was worse than forecast by analysts, with the mining-powered economy shedding more than 10,000 jobs instead of adding some 6,000 positions as had been flagged by the market.
The losses were offset by a fall in the participation rate -- the proportion of people in work or looking for work -- from 65.3 percent to 65.1 percent.
The Australian dollar dipped to 89.94 US cents on the disappointing numbers, from 90.22 immediately prior to their release.
The data comes just days after Australia's central bank slashed the official cash rate to an unprecedented low of 2.5 percent to boost the non-mining economy as a decade-long Asia-led resources investment boom unwinds.
Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens singled out rising unemployment as a key factor in Tuesday's 25-basis-point cut.
Labor, which is seeking a third term in office when Australia goes to the polls on September 7, scaled up its jobless forecasts for this financial year in a pre-election fiscal update last week to 6.25 percent from the 5.75 percent seen in May's budget.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Tony Abbott-led conservatives have both put economic management at the heart of their election campaigns and signs of weakness in the labour market will be unwelcome news for the incumbents.
Abbott accuses Labor of mismanaging the economy, which is facing a painful restructuring away from mining industry drivers of growth, while Rudd has stressed Australia's world-beating performance in the financial crisis as proof of his credentials.
Australia was one of a select few advanced economies to dodge recession during the global downturn due to dependence on industrialising Asia which is now being seen as something of a liability as the commodities boom cools.