Jobless rate may hit 6% in 2013

AUSTRALIA'S official jobless rate may top 6 per cent next year, according to Macquarie senior economist Brian Redican, who says the underlying unemployment rate is rising faster than official figures suggest.

Mr Redican said a combination of baby-boomer retirements and stay-at-school youth was masking the jobless gloom.

The ''modest deterioration'' in the labour force in recent months - June's jobless rate edged up to 5.2 per cent - might be providing a ''false sense of security that unemployment won't increase from here'', he said.

The unemployment rate has remained just above the 5 per cent rate despite the economy adding only about 47,000 jobs last financial year, down from more than 220,000 jobs a year earlier.

A low jobless rate - Australia's is about half that of the eurozone region - is widely seen as key to retaining consumer confidence and shoring up a property market now drifting lower in most parts of the country.