A 0.7 percentage point jump in South Australia’s jobless rate in April was the highest in the nation, ABS figures released today reveal.
The state’s unemployment rate is 7.1 per cent, up from 6.4 per cent in March. Only Tasmania has a higher rate in Australia at 7.3 per cent.
Business SA CEO Nigel McBride said he was disappointed by the results but he also noted that “we need to bear in mind the inherent volatility in monthly labour force data.”
“With South Australia’s unemployment rate still stubbornly high and the closure of auto manufacturing pending, it will be important that next week’s federal budget focus on economic infrastructure projects to create long term sustainable jobs,” he said.
The results are an early indicator of the pain likely to be felt from the closure of the car industry.
The male unemployment rate jumped from 6.2 per cent to 7.3 per cent. More than 60,000 males are now unemployed in the state.
John Spoehr, Associate Professor from the University of Adelaide, said the state faced two main problems — sluggish manufacturing and mining cutbacks.
Although the Federal Government has pledged to reinstate some of the funding it had originally cut from the Automotive Transformation Scheme (ATS), Prof Spoehr said all the money originally pledged would be needed for this difficult transition period.
“The rise in the male unemployment rate here in South Australia and the expectation that it will continue to rise underscores the need to look at the ATS,” he said.
“It makes sense to assist the component manufacturers to make that adjustment to really stem the job losses.”
Two weeks ago, Holden announced 270 jobs would be cut from its factory in Elizabeth.
Employment Minister Gail Gago said the unemployment figures were “disappointing”.
“While the latest figures are concerning, they show the importance of the State Government continuing to work together with business and industry to support jobs growth in a transitioning economy.”
South Australia’s headline — or seasonally adjusted — rate is above the trend rate of 6.8 per cent.
But the headline rate has now bounced at or above 7 per cent four times since March last year.
Liberal employment spokesman David Pisoni criticised the government’s approach to jobs earlier this week.
“To create jobs in South Australia, we need to lower taxes and reduce red tape to encourage business investment and economic growth,” he said.
“Unless we achieve this, South Australian businesses will continue to struggle.”
Ms Gago pointed out there were signs of recovery in other parts of the economy.
“Increases over the past year have been recorded for retail sales, investment, housing construction, sales of new motor vehicles and minerals and petroleum exploration expenditure,” she said.
Nationally, the unemployment rate is up to 6.2 per cent from 6.1 per cent in March.