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SA jobless rate hits record low

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South Australia’s unemployment rate has fallen below four per cent for the first time since records began in 1978, despite a decrease in the total number of people in work.

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Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures for December released today show South Australia’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate dropped by 0.7 percentage points to 3.9 per cent from November.

The state’s youth unemployment rate reduced 0.8 per cent to a record low of 7.3 per cent.

The number of South Australians looking for work in December fell by more than 6000 to 35,700, which is also a record.

However, the number of people in work in SA fell by 0.2 per cent to 882,600 and the underemployment rate increased by 0.5 per cent to 8.6 per cent.

The participation rate – the percentage of work-aged people either in a job or looking for one – also fell by 0.6 per cent to 62.9 per cent, the lowest in mainland Australia.

Nationally, Australia’s unemployment rate decreased by 0.5 per cent to 4.2 per cent following the easing of restrictions in New South Wales and Victoria.

The unemployment rate was 1.1 points below March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began seriously impacting Australia’s economy.

Western Australia had the lowest jobless rate in December at just 3.4 per cent followed by SA and Tasmania (3.9 per cent), NSW (4 per cent) and Victoria and the NT on 4.2 per cent.

Queensland regained the mantle of the state with the highest unemployment rate (4.7 per cent) followed by the ACT (4.5 per cent).

The total number of Australians in work increased by 65,000 (0.5 per cent) in December to 13.242 million.

Head of labour statistics at the ABS Bjorn Jarvis said the national unemployment rate was the lowest since just before the GFC in August 2008 when it was 4 per cent.

“This is also close to the lowest unemployment rate in the monthly series – February 2008 – and for a rate below 4.0 per cent we need to look back to the 1970s when the survey was quarterly,” he said.

Jarvis said the data showed further recovery in employment following the large 366,000 increase in November.

However, he said the data reflected only the first two weeks of December, before the Omicron variant resulted in a large increase in COVID-19 cases later in the month.

“Recovery in New South Wales and Victoria continued to have a large influence on the national figures, with employment in these two states increasing by 32,000 and 25,000 people between November and December,” he said.

“Their employment was around where it had been in May having fallen 250,000 and 145,000 during the lockdowns.”

South Australia’s youth unemployment rate was 7.3 per cent in December for 15-24 year-olds, the lowest since records began in 1986.

Nationally in December, changes in youth employment (up 38,000) and unemployment (down 32,000) accounted for more than half of the total movements.

“The large changes in employment and unemployment in December saw youth labour market measures return to levels we haven’t seen since the Global Financial Crisis,” Jarvis said.

“The (national) youth unemployment rate fell by 1.5 percentage points to 9.4 per cent, the lowest since November 2008, and the youth participation rate increased by 0.4 percentage points to 70.5 per cent, the highest it had been since September 2008.”

Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said SA’s youth employment was at its highest level in 31 years in December with 144,700 15-24 year-olds employed.

“The fact South Australia now has the lowest youth unemployment in the nation is an excellent sign for future growth as young people spurn moving interstate and stay in SA to take advantage of the growing opportunities,” he said.

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