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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian employment dived in August as coronavirus lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne forced businesses to lay off workers and slash hours, while the jobless rate was nudged lower by a sharp fall in the number of people looking for work.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), employment declined by 146,000 jobs in August, as compared with median expectations of a fall of 99,000. Following a drop to 4.5% in July due to lockdowns, the unemployment rate fell to 4.5% on Thursday.

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