Economists were encouraging by some promising data early in the week, but were brought down to Earth with a thud when dismal jobs figures were unveiled.
The week began well.
Or at least not too badly - the ANZ's count of job ads was down in December, the 21st monthly fall in the past 24 months.
But the downward trend appeared to be getting less steep, which encouraged ANZ's head of Australian economics, corporate and commercial, Justin Fabo.
"Overall, labour demand appears to be stabilising or even improving modestly," he said.
But, he said, there was still "considerable uncertainty" for jobs as a drop in resource investment loomed.
Strong housing finance figures, also on Monday, gave some reason to suppose that uncertainty would be resolved in a positive way.
"The solid up-trend in housing finance reflects buoyant conditions in the home sales market," ANZ Research economists Paul Braddick and Dylan Eades said.
Commonwealth Bank Economists Michael Workman and John Peters said a 25 per cent annual rise in lending for new housing was important for the growth outlook.
An upswing in residential construction was a key part of the "growth transition" needed to offset the coming downturn in mining investment.
And one of its effects would be to boost demand for labour, they said.
But there was not much evidence of that on Thursday, when the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the December jobs figures.
Employment fell in the month, with an underlying trend flat at best, while the jobless rate was saved from rising from 5.8 per cent to 5.9 per cent only by a fall in the number of people active in the labour market.
"The underlying trend in employment remains subdued and one that deteriorated in December," St George Bank's economists said.
Boris Schlossberg, foreign exchange strategist at BK Asset Management in New York said the figures were "depressing from every angle".
Westpac's Justin Smirk said the employment growth through 2013 had been "insipid", with the latest result weaker than other indicators suggested.
Sue Trinh, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets said the "dire" jobs figures confirmed that "trends in all components of the labour market remain soft".
Paul Brennan and Joshua Williamson at Citigroup said "there was little to celebrate" in the figures.
"It is likely to be not until the economy is heading back towards trend growth that labour demand will be able to provide sustained solid jobs growth," they said.
JP Morgan's Ben Jarman noted that the fall in employment in December surprised economists, who mostly expected a rise.
"But in a bigger picture sense, we would not call the results disappointing, since that conveys some sort of material surprise, which unfortunately is not warranted given the numbers are so consistent with the extended period of sub-trend growth, weak business sentiment, and falling job vacancies that the economy has been experiencing," they said.