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SA unemployment flatlines but now worst in nation

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Official data shows South Australia now has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, with employment growth offset by a surge in people entering the jobs market.

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The unemployment rate for the state (seasonally adjusted) was unchanged from July to August at 7.9 per cent – but that figure gives the state the highest jobless rate in the country, well above the next highest, Queensland, with 7.5 per cent.

Locked down Victoria’s jobless rate was the next highest, rising from 6.8 per cent in July to 7.1 per cent last month.

The number of South Australians in employment increased by 13,500 – mostly in part-time jobs – but the second-highest increase in the participation rate of all the states and territories kept the overall jobless rate static.

The participation rate, which measures the proportion of the working-age population either in work or looking for a job, increased by 1 per cent in August.

SA’s Innovation and Skills Minister David Pisoni said the figures were cause for optimism, with the size of the state’s labour force returning to pre-COVID levels.

He said more South Australians were actively seeking work, which reflected growing confidence in the local economy.

“The latest weekly payroll and wages data showed SA recording the strongest jobs growth of every state apart from WA, since the pandemic’s low point of mid-April,” Pisoni said.

“Employee wages have grown four times higher than the national level, while local consumers are rushing back to the shops, with the latest ABS retail figures showing more than $2 billion was spent in July – a 14 per cent jump on the previous year.

“All of these leading indicators are cause for optimism, and they are coupled with the release this week of stats which show SA leading the nation in the growth of apprentice and trainee commencements.

“Of course, there’s more work to be done, and today’s stats reflect the ongoing challenges ahead.”

The Opposition linked SA’s unemployment rate to what they argue is a lack of stimulus spending in SA.

“It is no coincidence South Australia has the lowest COVID-19 stimulus spend and the highest unemployment,” said Labor leader Peter Malinauskas.

“The Opposition has been calling for months for the Marshall Liberal Government to spend more to help stimulate the economy.”

Nationally, Australia’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 6.8 per cent as another large jump in employment was reported with COVID-19 restrictions easing across most states.

The unemployment rate fell from a 22-year high of 7.5 per cent in July, but still stands well above the 5.1 per cent rate seen in February when the pandemic first hit Australia’s shores.

The number of people unemployed fell below one million after rising to a record high in July.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

The Reserve Bank and Treasury have both predicted the unemployment rate will rise to 10 per cent by the end of the year with a further 400,000 people joining the dole queue.

The number of people in employment rose 111,000, the third month of exceptionally strong increases as restrictions were unwound.

The number of full-time positions rose by 36,200, while part-time jobs increased by 74,800.

The participation rate of those people in work or seeking employment rose to 64.8 per cent from 64.7 per cent.

Economists’ forecasts had centred on a fall of 35,000 jobs in the month with the unemployment rate ticking up to 7.7 per cent.

more to come

– with AAP

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