The economy created more than twice as many jobs as expected in August, but the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.3% following a rise in the number of people looking for work.

The new figures show jobs growth is on track to exceed its Budget forecast and a significant fall in underemployment, or the share of workers who would like more hours. “Our plan for a stronger economy is working, but there is more work to do,” said Jobs Minister Kelly O’Dwyer.

Total employment rose 44,000 in August compared with July. O’Dwyer says “more than two-thirds of the 306,000 new jobs over the past 12 months had been full-time. The budget forecasts annual jobs growth of 1.5% this financial year.” NSW and Queensland contributed the bulk of the increase in jobs.

Victoria and NSW have the lowest jobless rates across the states, with 4.7% and 4.8% per cent respectively, while Western Australia has the highest at 6.4%.

Sarah Hunter, an economist at BIS Oxford Economics, says she is “cautious” about the figures. “Although the data beat our expectations, the overall performance of the labour market this year has been mixed, particularly when compared to the stellar gains seen in 2017,” she says.

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