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SA jobless rate still nation's highest

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South Australia’s unemployment rate has again topped the country despite a marginal dip to 4.9 per cent, as the national rate held steady at a 14-year low of 4 per cent.

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Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures for March, released today, show South Australia’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell slightly from the 5 per cent recorded in February.

SA’s rate remains well clear of the 4.5 per cent recorded by second-highest placegetter Tasmania, followed by the Northern Territory’s 4.1.

Queensland and Victoria both recorded 4 per cent, while New South Wales fell to 3.9 per cent and Western Australia trumped all with a national low 3.4 per cent.

The number of employed South Australians climbed by 0.4 percentage points in March, while the state’s under-employment rate also lifted slightly by a 0.1 percentage points.

The state’s participation rate, measuring South Australians actively seeking work, also rose marginally by 0.2 per cent to 63.5 per cent, below that of every state and territory except Tasmania.

Nationally, employment numbers rose by 17,000 to 13,389,000 and the participation rate held steady at 66.4 per cent. But the total of monthly hours worked dropped dramatically in March, with 10 million fewer hours worked.

Full-time employment rose by 20,500 to to 9,248,000 while part-time work dropped marginally to 4,141,000.

ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said that while more people found jobs in March and unemployment fell by 12,000, “the unemployment rate decreased slightly in March though remained at 4.0 per cent in rounded terms”.

“4.0 per cent is the lowest the unemployment rate has been in the monthly survey,” he said,

“Lower rates were seen in the series before November 1974, when the survey was quarterly.”

Jarvis said floods in New South Wales and Queensland prompted a higher than usual number of people working fewer hours.

“This was in addition to the high number of people away from work due to illness, reflecting further disruption from the Omicron variant,” he said.

“The fall in hours in March follows falls in payroll jobs and wages over the same period. Like hours, that data can show larger short-term changes than for employment, because employees may be away from paid work for a short period without losing their job.”

-more to come

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