Australia’s unemployment rate edged lower in December to a seasonally adjusted 5.0 per cent, but the number of people in full-time work has dropped again.

Part-time employment drove a 21,600 increase in the number of people with jobs during the month – better than consensus expectation of 18,000 extra jobs – but Thursday’s data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed a 3,000 drop in the number of people employed full-time.

This follows a 6,400 drop in full-time employment during November, when an increased participation rate saw an unexpected jump in unemployment rate to 5.1 per cent.

NAB analyst Kaixin Owyong said December’s figures were a positive sign for the Reserve Bank in an environment of building concerns around consumer sentiment and spending.

‘The unemployment rate is back around the level associated with full employment,’ she said.

‘At this point, it looks like the RBA’s latest forecast is on track, although clearly progress remains gradual.’

The Aussie dollar was trading slightly higher after the release, buying 71.62 US cents at 1157 AEDT.

In December, there were 12.7 million Australians in work, 8.68 million full-time and 4.04 million part-time.

The nation’s participation rate decreased by less than 0.1 points to 65.6 per cent, while monthly hours worked in all jobs increased 1.3 million hours to 1758.9 million hours.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in Queensland, up 11,600 persons, followed by Victoria, up 10,500 persons and New South Wales, up 3,800 persons.

The largest decrease in employment was in Western Australia, down 15,300 persons.

The highest unemployment rate increase was in South Australia, up 0.6 points to 5.9 per cent.

The largest decrease was in Victoria, down 0.4 points to 4.2 per cent.

The ABS says since December 2017, full-time employment has increased by 162,000 persons, while part-time employment increased by 106,600 persons.