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SA unemployment rate climbs to three-year high

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South Australia’s unemployment rate continues to be the worst in Australia, with the August figure climbing to 7.3 per cent.

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Australian Bureau of Statistics data released today shows the SA jobless rate – on a seasonally adjusted basis – increased from 6.9 per cent in July to hit its highest rate since June 2016.

The state’s unemployment rate is nearly a full percentage point above the next worst performers – Queensland and Tasmania – and two full points above the national average.

The participation rate, which Premier Steven Marshall has used to explain the state’s climbing jobless rate, increased by 0.3 per cent.

The more stable trend rate is also the worst of all the states, increasing from 6.6 per cent to 6.8 per cent.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Marshall said earlier this month that the unemployment rate in South Australia was not a problem.

“None whatsoever,” the Premier said.

“We have been creating thousands of jobs since coming to government [and] the reason the unemployment rate went up is because more South Australians who were long term unemployed – not looking for jobs – have now said ‘I want a job’.”

In March 2018, when the Marshall Government took power, South Australia’s unemployment rate was 5.6 per cent.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said the figures were disappointing.

“The State Government understands the frustration of people looking for work and is committed to further increasing the number of jobs our economy is creating,” said Lucas.

“Our policies to reduce payroll tax, the Emergency Services Levy and other business costs demonstrates the State Government’s commitment to growing the South Australian economy, which is transitioning from a manufacturing base.”

He said while jobs were created in August, the increase wasn’t fast enough to match the growing number people looking for jobs.

“Put simply, what happened last month was that while an extra 5300 people joined the workforce looking for jobs, 1400 of those found employment, meaning 3900 were without work.

“In fact, the change in Government has seen a steady increase in the number of South Australians who want to work, which has driven the participation rate to near record levels in August.”

The Urban Development Institute of Australia linked the figures to the land tax debate, with CEO Pat Gerace telling InDaily that three months of uncertainty about the Government’s policy position following the State Budget had been damaging.

“These results, however you spin them, show there isn’t any margin for taking too long to deliver reform or make us more competitive,” he said. “There’s a real need to get on with making us the most competitive we can be right now.

“I can’t believe how we could be in this position of 90 days of uncertainty.”

The Property Council’s Daniel Gannon made a similar point.

“Given the state’s unemployment rate has now breached 7 per cent, the last thing the State Government should be doing is implementing risky changes to land tax,” he said.

“Instead of posing sovereign risk through the Government’s destructive land tax changes, the Premier should be swinging open the doors to investment by applying a handbrake to this ill-considered Budget measure.”

Opposition Treasury spokesman Stephen Mullighan questioned whether the Premier would see the August unemployment rate as a problem.

“If Steven Marshall won’t admit there’s a problem, how can South Australians have confidence he’ll do anything to create jobs?

“Steven Marshall has increased a raft of fees, charges and taxes, made massive cuts to public services and investment in infrastructure has been delayed.

“Steven Marshall promised more jobs, instead he’s delivered the highest unemployment rate in Australia.”

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