Treasurer Joe Hockey is encouraged that the jobless rate is holding steady, but Labor said this was more to do with people giving up the search for work.

A further rise in full-time employment comes at an opportune time for Joe Hockey as he continues to peddle his poorly received budget.

The jobless rate also remained at 5.8 per cent for a third straight month in May when economists had expected it to tick up to 5.9 per cent.

The treasurer dismissed suggestions that more than 100,000 full-time jobs were created since the turn of the year due to Labor leaving the economy in good nick, noting the former government left office with a forecast of a 6.25 per cent unemployment rate.

“It quite clearly appears that we have turned around the trajectory,” Mr Hockey told reporters in Darwin on Thursday.

New data showed the number of people in full-time employment grew 22,200 in May.

However, overall employment eased 4800 because of a 27,000 drop in part-time workers.

Mr Hockey took aim at Bill Shorten, saying the opposition leader had been proved “dead wrong” by claiming high-profile job cuts at Ford, Holden, Toyota, SPC Ardmona and Qantas would be the “end of all time”.

“Our decisions to provide stability, certainty and predictability have been proven right,” he said.

Labor’s employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said the steady jobless rate was more to do with people giving up on finding a job.

At 64.6 per cent the participation rate of those in work or actively seeking employment was lower than during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

“People have given up looking for work because of the … lack of confidence in the economy and in this government to provide opportunities for work,” Mr O’Connor told reporters in Melbourne.

Earlier Mr Hockey told ABC radio the drop in consumer sentiment in response to the budget was entirely predictable.

“You will see over time that we will deliver on a stronger economy … things are going to get better”.

In a speech on Wednesday, he lashed out at claims his budget is unfair saying the government must reward the lifters and discourage the leaners.

Too many Australians rely on government payments, he told the Sydney Institute.

“It should not be taboo to question whether everyone is entitled to these payments,” he said.

Mr Shorten accused the treasurer of cynically dividing Australians with a budget that puts big business ahead of individuals.

He also told the ACOSS annual conference in Brisbane the government’s lax approach to tax evasion was especially galling at a time when it is making cruel and unfair cuts to pensions, schools and hospitals.

Union “Bust the Budget” protest marches were held in Sydney on Melbourne on Thursday.