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SA reclaims worst unemployment mantle

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South Australia has regained the tag of having the nation’s highest unemployment rate, despite its jobless rate increasingly by only 0.1 per cent in May.

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Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released this morning show South Australia’s unemployment grew to 5.8 per cent from 5.7 per cent in April.

The seasonally adjusted May figures show the national jobless rate fell 0.4 per cent to 5.1 per cent, its lowest level since before the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of people listed as unemployed in SA increased to 53,900, from 52,400 in April.

SA was the only state to record a jobless increase in May, resulting in it being overtaken by Queensland and Tasmania in the jobs stakes. The Northern Territory (4.5 per cent) and ACT (3.6 per cent) also had slight increases in May unemployment from low bases.

Of the other states, Western Australia (4.7 per cent) continued to have the lowest unemployment rate, followed by Victoria (4.8), NSW (5.0), Queensland (5.4) and Tasmania (5.7).

South Australia’s underemployment rate fell by half a percentage point to 7.8 per cent in May, while the participation rate increased 0.5 per cent to 63.3 per cent, which could in part explain the 0.1 per cent rise.

However, SA’s participation rate –  measuring those actively looking for work – remains the lowest of the mainland states at 63.3 per cent, well below the national average of 66.2.

The number of people in work in the state increased by 6900 to 871,100 in May compared to April. This was driven by another 8700 part-time jobs while the number of people in full-time work fell by about 1700.

South Australia had the worst unemployment rate in Australia from January to March but shrugged the tag in April when unemployment fell from 6.4 per cent in March to 5.7 per cent.

But Innovation and Skills minister David Pisoni said today’s ABS figures confirmed that South Australia had emerged from the pandemic stronger than ever.

“It is particularly pleasing than the 48,000 workers on Job Keeper at the end of March are still in work and another 22,400 jobs have been created,” he said.

“The fact we had strong growth in the participation rate in the last month explains why the unemployment rate edged up by 0.1 per cent despite the creation of 6,800 jobs.”

Head of labour statistics at the ABS Bjorn Jarvis said May was the seventh consecutive monthly fall in the national unemployment rate.

“The declining unemployment rate continues to align with the strong increases in job vacancies“ he said.

“The number of unemployed people fell by 53,000 in May, down to 701,000. The number of unemployed people has fallen by around 303,000 since the peak of 1 million unemployed people in July 2020.”

“The youth unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points but remained low, at 10.7 per cent. The last time we saw a youth unemployment rate as low as in April and May 2021 was in January 2009.”

The latest fall in Australia’s unemployment rate coincided with a strong increase in employment between April and May.

“Employment increased by 115,000 people in May, following the 31,000 fall in April, around the Easter holiday period,” Jarvis said.

“Over the past two months, employment increased by around 84,000 people, and was 1.0 per cent higher in May 2021 than at the start of the pandemic.”

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