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SA jobless rate still nation's highest

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South Australia’s unemployment rate remains the worst in Australia despite a slight fall to 6.8 per cent in February – a full percentage point higher than the national average.

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According to seasonally adjusted ABS statistics released this morning, the national unemployment rate dropped 0.5 per cent to be 5.8 per cent in February as total employment pushed past 13 million.

But the underemployment rate rose to 8.5 per cent nationally and 8.6 per cent in South Australia as more people looked to increase their hours.

South Australia’s unemployment fell from 7.1 per cent in January, while the ACT (4.1 per cent), Northern Territory (4.9 per cent), Victoria and NSW (both 5.6 per cent) had the lowest rates.

Queensland (6.1 per cent) still has the second-highest jobless rate but distanced itself from SA with a 0.9 per cent fall ahead of WA (6 per cent) and Tasmania (5.7 per cent).

South Australia’s participation rate, which measures the proportion of people either in the workforce or looking for a job, increased by 0.3 per cent in February to 62.4 per cent but is still the lowest of all mainland states and only marginally higher than Tasmania (61.7 per cent).

The national participation rate increased by 0.1 per cent to 66.1 per cent.

The number of South Australians in work in February rose by 6700 to 847,400, with 3200 of those positions being full-time.

There were 3800 more SA women employed in February and 2800 men employed compared with January’s figures.

Nationally, a further 88,70 people joined the workforce in February, exceeding expectations.

Economists had expected a more modest 30,000 increase in employment in February, with the jobless rate easing to 6.3 per cent from an originally reported 6.4 per cent in January.

However, the January rate was revised down to 6.3 per cent.

“The strong employment growth this month saw employment rise above 13 million people and was 4000 people higher than March 2020,” Australian Bureau of Statistics head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said.

Innovation and Skills Minister David Pisoni said while it was encouraging to see more South Australians in work and a fall in the unemployment rate, “there is more work to done”.

“With the Commonwealth’s JobKeeper scheme concluding on March 31 it is likely that the employment figures will bounce around during the next few months,” he said.

State Opposition treasury spokesman Stephen Mullighan said that it was “now clear that the Marshall Liberal Government is failing to do enough to support South Australians to get back into work”.

In the last three years, this Government has overseen delays to infrastructure projects, cuts to employment programs, and tax increases to small businesses,” he said.

 – with AAP

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