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SA's unemployment rate lifts to 18-month high

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South Australia’s unemployment rate continued to track upwards in January, with the headline figure rising to 6.3 per cent.

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It’s the worst figure recorded in the state since June 2017, when the seasonally adjusted rate reached 6.6 per cent. The rate is marginally ahead of the pre-election figure for February last year, which was 6.2 per cent.

Today’s Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show South Australia performing better than Tasmania and Western Australia, but behind Queensland, Victoria and NSW – the national leader with a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.9 per cent.

The national figure was unchanged at 5 per cent.

In South Australia, the headline jobless rate increased from 5.9 per cent in December to 6.3 per cent in January. The more stable trend rate also edged up – from 5.9 per cent to 6 per cent.

The participation rate – the proportion of the population either in the workforce or looking for work – decreased marginally, in seasonally adjusted terms.

The spike in the jobless rate comes amid new revelations about a lack of guaranteed local jobs in the Future Submarines project.

But Minister for Industry and Skills David Pisoni was looking on the bright side.

He said there were 114.5 million paid working hours in South Australia in January – 1.8 million more than a year ago, equal to $70 million in extra wages paid.

He also pointed to an improvement in youth unemployment over the last 12 months, which fell to 12.7 per cent for the year to January, down from 15.9 per cent in the previous year, and said almost 10,000 more full-time jobs had been created in South Australia over the past year.

But he said there was more to be done to grow and diversify the local economy.

“That is why the Marshall Liberal Government’s plan to create more than 20,800 apprenticeships and traineeships over four years is critically important,” said Pisoni.

“This will drive employment growth and ensure that we have the skills necessary to diversify into new industries such as Defence, space, cybersecurity and entrepreneurship.

“In recent months we have seen strong full-time jobs growth, with more people finding work in our state as a consequence of employers responding favourably to this government’s policies.”

But Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said Labor had a better record on creating jobs than the Liberal Party.

He said the number of South Australians employed had decreased by 200 on trend terms since the election of the Marshall government, comparing the figure to the 18,100 jobs created in the final 10 months of the Weatherill Government.

“Since the Marshall Liberal Government came to power, the number of South Australians with a job has decreased – this is extremely concerning,” said Malinauskas.

“Just yesterday, Premier Steven Marshall said ‘there will be more work than we can cope with in South Australia’, but the raw data paints a very different picture.

“We’ve seen the Liberals cut 29 job-creating programs and there are serious questions about the number of local jobs arising out of the Future Submarines project.”

Nationally, the figures show a jump in full-time employment and fewer part-time jobs, which slightly reduced underemployment.

There was a net increase of 39,100 persons with work, including 65,400 more people in full-time employment and 26,300 fewer people in part-time employment.

– with AAP

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