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SA's post-Holden unemployment rate increases

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UPDATED | South Australia’s unemployment rate has increased in the wake of the closure of Holden’s Elizabeth factory.

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Australian Bureau of Statistics data for November shows South Australia was one of two states to record an increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate – rising to 6.1% from 5.8% the previous month.

The October data showed South Australia had the third-best unemployment rate in the country, only bettered by NSW and Victoria.

The Holden factory closed with the loss of hundreds of jobs on October 20 – too late for its impact to be recorded in that month’s jobs data. About 950 workers were employed at the plant when it closed, and the loss of those jobs appears to have flowed through to the November data.

The November figures show South Australia’s unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points, with only Western Australia performing worse. The more stable trend rate was unchanged at 5.8%.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was steady at 5.4%.

The participation rate – the proportion of people either in employment or actively seeking work – increased by 0.4 percentage points.

State employment minister Kyam Maher focused on South Australia’s longer-term performance, saying that today’s data showed that 21,900 more South Australians were employed now compared to two years ago, with the state also recording a drop in the jobless rate from 6.9% in November last year to 6.1% this year.

“These are the first set of jobs figures that reflect the Holden closure,” he said in a statement.

“We have seen a minor increase in the headline unemployment rate, but the South Australian economy is continuing to create jobs.”

Professor John Spoehr, Director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Flinders University, said he did not expect the full impact of the Holden closure to feed into the unemployment statistics until early next year.

However, he said it was encouraging that the jobless rate at the closure of Holden was relatively low.

“What’s extraordinary really at the moment is that the start point is as good as it is,” he told InDaily.

“I don’t think anyone thought we would be looking at a rate under six (per cent)…. around the closure.”

Unemployment was being kept down by factors including a sustained investment in infrastructure projects.

“This results in jobs that people from the auto sector are likely to be able to take advantage of.”

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