UPDATE 2-Australia Nov jobs soar again in boost to economic recovery

(Adds quote from Treasurer in pars 11-12)

SYDNEY, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Australian jobs surpassed expectations again in November, pushing the unemployment rate lower in a sign massive monetary and fiscal stimulus was bearing fruit after the country brought the coronavirus pandemic under control.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday showed employment jumped by a stellar 90,000 in November, following an equally impressive rise in October, and the jobless rate eased to 6.8%.

Economists polled by Reuters were predicting an addition of 50,000 jobs with the unemployment rate staying steady at 7%.

The data adds to evidence that Australia’s A$2 trillion ($1.52 trillion) economy is well on its way to recovery after slipping to its first recession in three decades earlier this year.

November’s job gains were led by Victoria state, which emerged from a lengthy virus lockdown just last month.

During Australia’s national lockdown, from March to May, jobs fell 872,000. Since then, they have recouped more than 80% of the drop.

Though the overall outcome exceeded forecasts, the figures show there are still 138,000 fewer employed people than in March and 226,000 more people without a job.

The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, was also high at 16.2%.

For its part, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has slashed the cash rate to near zero and launched a A$100 billion quantitative easing (QE) programme, saying creating jobs was a “national priority.”

That monetary burst and the government’s A$300 billion fiscal stimulus is paying off, analysts said.

Australia’s federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg upgraded economic forecasts on Thursday but said it would take four years for the jobless rate to fall to pre-COVID levels.

“The road ahead is challenging - very challenging,” he said in parliament.

“We’ve not yet defeated the virus. It still is with us.”

$1 = 1.3194 Australian dollars Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Himani Sarkar & Shri Navaratnam