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SA no longer has the country's highest jobless rate

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South Australia no longer has the highest unemployment rate in the country – handballing that title to Queensland – but the latest data paints a mixed picture, with thousands of people also leaving the SA workforce.

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics today released jobs data for January, showing a steep fall in South Australia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate.

The SA rate fell to 5.7 per cent last month, down from 6.2 per cent in December, which had been the highest in the nation.

According to this morning’s release from the ABS, Queensland (6.3 per cent), Tasmania (5.9 per cent) and Western Australia (5.8 per cent) each had a worse jobless rate than South Australia.

But the precipitous fall in South Australia’s headline figure was affected by a significant jump in the number of people who either gave up on looking for work or retired.

South Australia’s seasonally adjusted participation rate – the proportion of people either in work or looking for a job, adjusted for seasonal factors – fell by the widest margin in the country, from 62.4 per cent in December down to 62.1 per cent in January.

The ABS does not provide seasonally adjusted figures for the total number of people who are not looking for work, but does publish the original unadjusted figure, to the nearest hundred.

It shows 19,300 South Australians gave up looking for work or retired in January.

In the same month, the number of people in employment in South Australia rose by about 1000 (although this figure is seasonally adjusted).

Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni welcomed the fall in the headline unemployment rate, arguing that the Government’s spending on skills training was “delivering results for jobs, careers, and paid training opportunities as we repair the state’s training system and boost the capacity of the South Australian workforce”.

Pisoni cited a 17.1 per cent increase in apprentice and trainee program enrolment and a 19.3 per cent increase in the number of apprentices and trainees in regional South Australia.

“These are encouraging results in the face of national economic headwinds, and the impacts of bushfires, coronavirus and softer economic conditions nationally and globally,” Pisoni said.

“In addition to our strong investments in skills training, the Marshall Liberal Government is also undertaking a massive $12.9 billion infrastructure program over the next four years.”

 

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