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Shrinking SA labour force leads to falling unemployment rate

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South Australia’s unemployment rate fell to 4.5 per cent in April but is still the equal highest in the nation as Australia’s jobless rate hit a 47-year low.

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According to seasonally adjusted figures released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics this morning, the national jobless rate fell slightly to 3.9 per cent – the lowest level since August 1974.

South Australia and Queensland have the equal highest unemployment rate followed by Victoria, (4.2 per cent), Northern Territory (4.1 per cent), Tasmania (3.8 per cent), New South Wales (3.5 per cent), ACT (3.1 per cent) and Western Australia (2.9 per cent).

The 0.4 per cent fall in South Australia’s unemployment rate can be attributed to a  0.7 per cent fall in the participation rate, which measures the percentage of people either in work in looking for a job.

While the number of unemployed people in the state fell by 3900 in April, the number with a job fell by 5000, leading to a total labour force reduction of 8900 from March’s record level of 928,9000 to 920,000.

Youth unemployment in SA increased from 8.4 per cent in March to 8.7 per cent in April.

ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said employment nationally in April rose by 4,000 people and unemployment fall by 11,000 people, resulting in a slight decrease in the unemployment rate.

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

“The last time the unemployment rate was lower than this was in August 1974, when the survey was quarterly.”

There has been a steady decline in the national unemployment rate since hitting 7.4 per cent during the COVID-19 recession, in large part due to the lack of skilled migration as international borders were kept shut.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said there were more than 29,000 job vacancies in the retail sector alone.

“Without the usual numbers of overseas workers and students, these gaps won’t be filled using traditional recruitment methods,” he said.

The fall in the unemployment rate below four per cent will fuel expectations of a further rise in the cash rate when the Reserve Bank of Australia board meets in June.

However, yesterday’s sluggish wages figures suggest the RBA won’t be lifting the cash rate by any more than 25 basis points, matching its first increase in a decade earlier this month as it fights ballooning inflation.

The minutes of the May RBA board meeting released on Tuesday showed there had been some discussion on raising the cash rate by a larger than usual 40 basis points.

But with wages growing by just 0.7 per cent in the March quarter to an annual rate of 2.4 per cent – less than half the rate of inflation at 5.1 per cent – economists see little urgency for a big hike at this stage.

 – With AAP

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