Unemployment in SA climbed 0.9 points, seasonally adjusted, to 7.7 per cent from 6.8 per cent, meaning the state maintains its unenviable position at the top of the jobless table.
The trend measurement saw SA unemployment remain unchanged on 7.2 per cent from January to February.
The February labor force figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded 527,100 people in the state registered in full-time work for the month and 66,900 South Australians listed as jobless.
Nationally the unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, decreased 0.2 points to 5.8 per cent and participation rate decreased 0.2 points to 64.9 per cent.
Unemployment around Australia decreased 27,300 to 732,600.
The number of unemployed people looking for full-time work decreased 18,200 to 525,200 and the number of unemployed persons only looking for part-time work decreased 9,100 to 207,400.
Employment increased 300 to 11,884,000 with full-time employment up 15,900 to 8,192,600 and part-time employment decreased 15,600 to 3,691,500.
Monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased 2 million hours to 1,652.6 million hours.
SA’s participation rate was relatively steady with a slight 0.1 per cent rise to 62.2, seasonally adjusted.
However, SA’s underutilised rate of 17.5 per cent, seasonally adjusted – and trend rate of 17.7 – was the highest in the country.
More SA men and women were not working to their capacity than anywhere else in the country. During February, 19 per cent of women were underutilised in the workforce and 16 per cent of men were not used to their full potential.
The nation’s participation rate, seasonally adjusted, decreased 0.2 points to 64.9 per cent.
The largest decreases in the seasonally adjusted participation rates were in Queensland (down 0.8 percentage points) and Western Australia (-0.5).
The trend participation rate decreased in Western Australia (down 0.1 percentage points), Tasmania (-0.2) and the Northern Territory (-0.2) and was relatively unchanged in the other state and territories.
The largest increases in the seasonally adjusted participation rates were in Victoria (up 0.4 percentage points) and Queensland (0.3).
Employment Minister Kyam Maher said the increased unemployment rate reflected SA’s period of “economic transition” from traditional trades to new sectors.
“South Australia is going through a period of economic transition, with less reliance on old industries such as heavy manufacturing and car-making, and a greater focus on high-tech, high-value manufacturing in areas such as food and medical devices,” Maher said.
“This transition means our state faces a difficult employment challenge.
“Thousands of production line and automotive supply chain jobs will be lost when General Motors Holden closes its Elizabeth plant next year.”
Maher said there were “positive signs” as more people were engaged in the job market during February.
“During the past two weeks, the creation of at least 175 new jobs – and possibly as many as 300 – has been announced,” he said.
“Pfizer Australia will go ahead with a $21 million upgrade of its Adelaide facility, allowing for the commercialisation of a cancer medicine.
“This will secure 100 local hi-tech manufacturing jobs, as well as work for local tradespeople contributing to the complex fit-out of the facility.”
He said a new joint venture between local water treatment technology company Micromet and Chinese industrial group Dadongwu would create 75 new manufacturing jobs, and as many as 200 positions, in Adelaide.
“The agreement will open new markets in China for Micromet’s technology, which removes pollutants from contaminated water such as sewage, grey water, and industrial effluent.”
State opposition employment spokesman Corey Wingard said the unemployement spike was “incredibly disappointing”.
“All South Australians deserve every opportunity to have a stable job in a growing economy,” Wingard said.
“The reality is that we wouldn’t be in this position if the Labor Government had delivered on its promise to create 100,000 jobs for South Australians.
“The Weatherill Labor Government fails to comprehend that their high tax and spend policies are strangling business investment and jobs growth in South Australia.
“As a start, Treasurer Koutsantonis must extend the small business payroll tax rebate, which is due to be abolished in July this year.
“Businesses need to have confidence in the future so that they can make long-term hiring decisions.
“If we reduce the tax burden on South Australian businesses, owners will have stronger incentives to invest, creating more opportunities for those in search of a job, and more hours for those who already have a job but would like to work more hours.”
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