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UPDATE 1-Australian jobs surge by most in 15 years, stir doubts about data

* Employment +71,400 in Nov, vs forecasts of -10,000

* Jobless rate falls to 19-month low of 5.8 pct vs 6 pct expected

* A$ jumps, though analysts raise doubts on data reliability (Adds more detail, background)

SYDNEY, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Australian employment surged by the most in over 15 years in November and nudged the unemployment rate to a 19-month low, but so stunning was the result that it revived doubts about the reliability of the data.

The local dollar surged after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported a staggering 71,400 net new jobs were created in November, confounding forecasts for a drop of 10,000.

It was the second straight month of huge gains with October enjoying a rise of 56,100. Taken together that was the strongest two-month total in 28 years.

The surprises kept coming as the jobless rate dipped to 5.8 percent, when analysts had looked for a rise to 6.0 percent, and the participation rate jumped to its highest since 2012 at 65.3.

“We looked at the October number as almost too good to be true, and you look at today’s number and it blows it out of the water even more,” said Tom Kennedy, an economist at JPMorgan.

“So two very very strong back-to-back months and it’s very difficult to pin any drivers down because economic growth is still pretty soft.”

The Australian economy grew 2.5 percent in the year to September, short of the 3.0 to 3.25 percent pace that used to be considered “normal”.

The ABS has had trouble with its jobs survey in the past that resulted in large revisions in both directions. The agency noted that the new entrants in its survey sample in both October and November had higher employment and participation rates than the average, which may wash out in the December sample.

Still, on the surface the numbers were strong and markets reacted by lengthening the odds of another cut in interest rates and lifting the Australian dollar almost a cent to $0.7318 .

Interbank futures <0#YIB:> now imply around a one-in-three chance of a cut next year, down from two-in-three previously.

IT’S A SERVICE ECONOMY

The surprising resilience of employment was already a major reason the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) had resisted pressure for an easing in the 2 percent cash rate.

According to the November data annual growth in employment accelerated to a blistering 3.0 percent. That compares to 1.9 percent in the United States, where the strength of the labour market will likely lead to the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates for the first time in almost a decade next week.

Leading indicators of labour demand including vacancies and business surveys, have been pointing to a pick up, just not as exuberant as the jobs report suggests.

While miners have been retrenching, the sector at its peak only ever accounted for around 2 percent of all jobs.

Instead, service sector employment has been expanding by almost 250,000 a year, led by healthcare, professional and technology services, accommodation, recreation, and transport.

An aging population is steadily increasing demand for healthcare, with the sector now the single biggest employer.

A lower local dollar and the rise of the Asian middle class is proving a bonanza for tourism. Visitors from China rose by a fifth in the year to October and are estimated to have spent over A$7.7 billion while in Australia.

Growth in architectural, engineering and technical services has been concentrated in the two most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria and owe much to booming home building and a bevy of large infrastructure projects. (Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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