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State jobless rate nation's highest

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South Australia has regained the unwanted mantle of having the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 5.1 per cent following the release of Australian Bureau of Statistics jobs data for September.

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Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased 0.1 per cent in September to 4.6 per cent, defying expectations that lockdowns in Victoria and New South Wales would see it balloon to at least 4.8 per cent.

In SA, the unemployment rate increased 0.1 per cent from 5 per cent in August as the total number of people in work in the state fell by about 600 to 873,500.

However, the number of people in full-time work in SA in September fell by 2300 to 567,200 from a record 569,500 in August.

The rise in the jobless rate sees South Australia regain the mantle of Australia’s highest unemployment rate – a tag it has held for six of the nine months reported by the ABS so far this year – but not since June.

The underemployment rate in SA also increased to 8.4 per cent in September while the participation rate, which measures the number of people either in work or looking for it – was flat at 63 per cent.

South Australia’s youth unemployment jumped from 9.2 per cent in August to 11 per cent in September.

In other states, Western Australia and the ACT had the lowest overall unemployment rates at 4.1 per cent followed by the Northern Territory (4.2 per cent), NSW (4.6 per cent), Victoria, Tasmania (both 4.8 per cent) and Queensland (4.9 per cent).

Nationally, falling participation rates in Victoria and NSW caused the national participation rate to fall to 64.5 per cent.

The youth unemployment rate in Australia increased 0.3 per cent to 10.5 per cent.

Head of labour statistics at the ABS Bjorn Jarvis said there were 111,000 fewer employed people across Australia in September 2021 than in March 2020.

He said total hours worked had also fallen two per cent in the 18-month period.

“Extended lockdowns in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have seen employment and hours worked both drop back below their pre-pandemic levels,” Jarvis said.

“In September, there were large falls in employment in Victoria (123,000 people) and New South Wales (25,000 people, following the 173,000 decline in August). This was partly offset by a 31,000 increase in Queensland, as conditions there recovered from the lockdown in early August.

“The low national unemployment rate continues to reflect reduced participation during the recent lockdowns, rather than strong labour market conditions.

“Over the past three months, participation in the labour force has fallen by over 330,000 people, with employment falling by 281,000 people and unemployment falling by 53,000 people. Beyond people losing their jobs, or working reduced or no hours, we continue to see how challenging it is for people without work to remain active within the labour market during lockdowns.”

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