The good economic news just keeps coming. This morning’s unemployment figures were not expected to point to any cataclysm in the job market, but to continue the steady rise in joblessness we’ve been witnessing — the March jump and its April correction aside — since unemployment hit bottom twelve months ago. And that’s what we got, but even smaller than expected.

The trend and seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates increased from 5.7 to 5.8%, with a small fall in the participation rate which may have helped offset a bigger rise.

What’s remarkable, however, is the sheer flatness of the numbers. No State recorded a significant change either in male or female unemployment or even participation rates. NSW up a tick to 6.6, Victoria to 6.0%, Queensland with the biggest jump of 0.2% to 5.4%. South Australia down slightly to 5.5%. The west up to 5.2% from 5.0%. Tasmania flat. The biggest fall in the participation rate was in the Apple Isle, with a 0.2% fall. Little evidence of the discouragement effect at work.

This is an economy coping remarkably well with a collapse in its terms of trade and in business lending.

Treasury’s predicted unemployment rate of 6% for the end of 2008-09 has thus been missed, and, barring another financial disaster or a tepid international recovery, there must now be real doubt that this time next year we’ll see 8.25% unemployment, as Treasury forecast back in May. Tuesday’s Fair Pay Commission decision will help prevent some of the workers most likely to be in the firing line from losing their jobs as well.

Far more than GDP numbers or other indicators, unemployment is the measure of the real world impact of the downturn on working Australians. Each smaller-than-expected rise in unemployment means less social and economic damage and fewer long-term unemployed people than otherwise would have been the case.

Given it’s only a few months since we were talking about depressions, and given that the rest of the planet is still struggling to halt the slide into mass unemployment, this is Miracle Economy stuff.