Australia's unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 5.3 percent in November, latest data showed, with the number of people in work falling as businesses cut costs.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday said the economy saw 6,300 jobs lost in the month, driven by an decrease in full-time employment, against economists' expectations for 10,000 new positions.
It compares with a 5.2 percent jobless rate in October.
The Australian dollar fell on the report and was trading at 102.61 US cents mid-afternoon, down from around 102.85 US cents before the data.
AMP Capital Investors chief economist Shane Oliver said the jobless figures showed the labour market was softening.
"The economy outside mining has been quite weak so companies have had to start laying people off to get their costs under control," he said.
"Until recently it was the one strong patch of the economy outside mining, but quite clearly the jobs market is giving way as well."
Australia's economy grew 1.0 percent in the three months to September, according to data Wednesday, but activity was muted or declining in all but the nation's mining-driven states.
In a bid to stimulate spending, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates for the second time in as many months on Tuesday with a 25-basis-point reduction to 4.25 percent.
Macquarie Group senior economist Brian Redican said he did not expect employment to recover any time soon with the eurozone debt crisis weighing on sentiment, and tipped another interest rate cut in February.
"These kind of (jobs) numbers (and) the possibility of a very low inflation rate in the fourth quarter would certainly all be consistent with the Reserve Bank trimming rates once again," he said.
In a recent economic outlook, Canberra said unemployment in mid-2012 was expected to be 5.5 percent, compared with a previous forecast of 4.75 percent.
Jobless numbers peaked at a relatively shallow 5.8 percent at the height of the global financial crisis.
Though it has hovered near the five percent mark for more than a year, the unemployment rate has increased in recent months.