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SA unemployment soars to worst rate in decades


South Australia has recorded its highest unemployment rate in more than 20 years, with official jobs data for June showing the state recorded the worst jobs performance of the states and territories.

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South Australia’s jobless rate (seasonally adjusted) climbed from 7.9 per cent in May to 8.8 per cent in June, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released this morning.

It is the worst SA unemployment rate since January 1999, when South Australia recorded a 9 per cent figure.

The lift in the jobless rate appears to be driven by an increase in the participation rate – the proportion of people either in jobs or looking for work. As some restrictions eased last month, more people re-entered the jobs market.

In June, 817,300 people were recorded as being employed in South Australia – up from 805,900 the previous month – but well below the 854,400 people in jobs in March, at the beginning of the pandemic.

Nationally, the unemployment rate increased from 7.1 per cent 7.4 per cent, but Treasurer Josh Frydenberg believes the real unemployment rate is much higher.

“[It is] around 13.3 per cent right now,” he told reporters on Monday. “That is a large number of people reflecting the economic challenges that we see right now.”

Premier Steven Marshall said the nation was facing “an incredible economic crisis”

“What we know is that over 29,000 South Australians have lost their jobs since the beginning of this year,” he said.

“I don’t think there’s anybody who is not feeling the effects of the economic downturn in South Australia – whether it’s directly from employment or family member or friend.

“This is a devastating illness, it is also a devastating economic crisis for our nation and we’re not immune to that here in South Australia.

“Over the past month we have created 11,400 jobs so there is a small upside to what has occurred over the last month, but we have still got a mighty task to get over the high unemployment rate here in South Australia.”

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said the state’s jobless rate didn’t need to be this high.

“These jobs numbers are a tragedy for thousands of South Australian families,” he said.

“It didn’t have to be this bad. Steven Marshall’s lacklustre stimulus package has failed to save jobs and it’s failed to create jobs.

“South Australia has had one of the best health responses to the COVID crisis, led by Professor Nicola Spurrier and Police Commissioner Grant Stevens.

“But SA’s economic response, led by Steven Marshall has delivered the worst unemployment rate in Australia.”

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