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SA unemployment rate improves due to part-time jobs growth

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South Australia’s unemployment rate improved in December, with no sign yet of a significant post-Holden hit on the headline jobs figure.

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The jobless rate improved slightly compared to November, falling by 0.2 percentage points to 5.9 per cent (seasonally adjusted), according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released today.

While the rate was above the national figure of 5.5 per cent, South Australia’s unemployment rate is now the third lowest in the country, with only Western Australia and New South Wales recording better results.

However, the underlying figures show a drop in the number of people in full-time employment (down from 548,600 to 544,400 on the original data), which was more than covered by an increase in the number of part-time employed (up from 280,700 to 292,100).

Against most predictions, South Australia’s unemployment rate dropped significantly through 2017. It started on 6.4 per cent in January before climbing to a peak of 7.3 per cent in April. It declined steadily to a low of 5.7 per cent in August before ticking up slightly.

The more stable trend rate was unchanged on 5.9 per cent in December.

State Employment Minister Kyam Maher said the figures showed 20,400 more South Australians were employed compared to two years ago, with around  70 per cent of those in full-time work.

He said the trend rate had recorded the strongest decline of all the states in 2017.

“This is what happens when you make jobs your number one priority,” he said in a statement.

“While I welcome the latest figures, there is always more work to be done.”

Liberal employment spokesman Corey Wingard criticised the lack of growth in full-time jobs.

“If we want to halt the exodus of young people interstate they need full-time jobs so they can buy a house, raise a family and buy a new car,” he said.

With a state election coming in March, the next two releases of unempoyment data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics will be watched closely.

In December, Professor John Spoehr, Director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Flinders University, told InDaily that he did not expect to see the employment figures to reflect the impact of October’s Holden closure until early 2018.

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

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

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