TASMANIA'S unemployment rate remained steady during December, but still remains the highest in the country.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data released yesterday showed that the state's trend unemployment rate plateaued at 7 per cent from November.
Nationwide about 14,000 full- time jobs were lost in December, as the national unemployment rate jumped to 5.4 per cent.
Premier Lara Giddings said the government would focus on creating jobs in 2013 and that the figures showed the state's labour market had begun to stabilise.
About 17,500 Tasmanians are without work, which Ms Giddings said was "still too high".
Overall, Australia's jobs market finished 2012 on a sour note and is unlikely to improve any time soon as slowing economic growth and the high Australian dollar put employers under pressure.
Total employment fell by 5500 as demand for part-time workers offset some of the lost full-time jobs.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott pinned the blame for the rise in unemployment on the government's decision to abandon its plans to return the federal budget to surplus this financial year.
He said the move, announced by Treasurer Wayne Swan in December, had hurt business confidence.
However, acting Employment Minister Kate Ellis blamed the Queensland's government for the rise, pointing out unemployment lifted by nearly 23,000 in the state during December.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Alex Joiner said the unemployment rate was likely to continue to rise in 2013 as the mining investment boom peaked and the high Australian dollar continued to hold back other parts of the economy.
"We expect the combination of slowing economic growth and the high Australian dollar will prompt industry to shed more labour this year in order to reduce costs and improve productivity outcomes and this will result in the unemployment rate rising further," Mr Joiner said.
The December job figures came a day after building products maker Boral cut 700 staff from its Australian operations.
Steelmaker BlueScope also axed 170 jobs on Monday.
Mr Joiner said the Reserve Bank of Australia would need to cut interest rates further in 2013 to support jobs and economic growth in underperforming sectors of the economy once the boom in mining investment peaked.