While more than 3000 full-time workers lost their job each week last month as companies continued to cut back staff numbers, the dependence on part-time work is putting real financial pressure on working Australians and their families, say unions.

The steady unemployment rate in July is heartening, but the economy is not out of the woods yet, and a further decline in total employment has been avoided because of an increase in part-time work, says the ACTU.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the unchanged jobless rate of 5.8% was encouraging and further evidence that the economic stimulus plan being rolled out by the Federal Government was having a positive impact.

“We are increasingly hopeful that the official Treasury forecast of 8.5% unemployment over the next 12 months will be undershot, and fewer Australians than previously predicted will lose their job,” Ms Burrow said.

“It appears that the action taken by the Federal Government earlier this year is beginning to take effect with building works underway at schools around the nation and homes being upgraded for energy efficiency, among other measures.

“But it is far too early to relax when thousands of full-time workers are losing their jobs each week, and the average time to find another job is now more than eight months.

“The youth unemployment rate has also continued to rise, which is also a worrying sign.

“The benchmark for economic recovery must be jobs growth for both full-time and part-time work, not simply switching between the two forms of employment.”

The switch to part-time employment has contributed to a growing issue of labour under-utilisation, where people want to work more hours but are unable to.

There were 870,800 people, or 7.6% of the employed workforce, in that situation in May, according to the most recent official data.