Australia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose 0.1 per cent to finish at 5.4 per cent in the December quarter of 2012.

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that the total number of people employed fell by 5,500 to 11,538,900. The decrease was driven by a fall in full time employment, down 13,800 to 8,112,500, but was offset by a increase in part-time employment, up 8,300 to 3,426,400.

The number of people unemployed increased by 16,600 people to 656,400 in December, the ABS reported.

The ABS monthly seasonally adjusted aggregate hours worked series showed a decrease in December, down 1.1 million hours to 1,623.5 million hours.

The ABS reported that the seasonally adjusted labour force participation rate remained steady at 65.1 per cent in December. 

The ABS also found that almost one in five of unemployed people in the July quarter of 2012 were unemployed for a year or more.

ABS Director of Labour Force and Supplementary Surveys, Cassandra Gligora, said the Job Search Experience survey collected information on the experiences of people seeking work such as steps taken to find work and the difficulties encountered in finding work. The survey collected information from unemployed people, employed people who started their job in 2012 and people employed for more than a year in their job who had looked for work in the last year.

Ms Gligora said, "For long-term unemployed people the most commonly reported difficulties in finding a job was their own health or a disability (18 per cent) and too many applicants for available jobs (14 per cent).

"Around 1.7 million people had started their current job in the last 12 months to July 2012. Nearly a quarter of people (23 per cent) searched for less than a month before starting their job while 34 per cent did not look for work. Only five per cent who had started a job had looked for work for one year or more. Of those who had started a job in the last 12 months, 156,000 people had started their own business" Ms Gligora said.