Improvement in State's unemployment rate not straight forward

Thursday 20 October, 2016 | By: Darrell Giles | Tags: unemployment figures, ABS data, labour market

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) say latest labour data is more complex than meets the eye, with much more work needed to halt unemployment.

In commenting on the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data released today, CCIQ Director of Advocacy Nick Behrens said interpreting the figures was not straight forward.

“We have seen both the trend unemployment rate reduce from 6.2 per cent to 6.1 per cent and the seasonally adjusted rate reduce from 6.2 per cent to 6.0 per cent,” he said.

“This compares to a national unemployment rate that also reduced both in trend and seasonally adjusted terms from 5.7 per cent to 5.6 percent.

“The improvement in the unemployment rate is seemingly consistent with the green shoot signs of an economic recovery now emerging particularly in South East Queensland.

“However, the story that is hidden this month is that the falling unemployment rate is largely as a result of an exodus of persons from the Queensland labour market.”

Mr Behrens said this was often described as the ‘discouraged worker effect’, where individuals had given up looking for active work to return to either educational studies or home duties.

“Queensland’s participation rate continued to decline in the month of September and is over one per cent lower than at this time last year,” he said.

“If the state’s participation rate had held steady over the past year or those persons had not given up looking for work we would be looking at an unemployment rate well north of 7 per cent and not the 6 per cent as reported today.

“To further support the fact that the state’s labour market is not yet performing is that both full and part time jobs have declined in the month of September and are well down from this time last year.”

In the month of September 2016, 22,900 full time jobs and 4100 total jobs were lost in seasonally adjusted terms.

“Compared to this time last year, the story is similar with 24,500 fewer full time jobs and 6000 fewer total jobs – so focusing solely on the unemployment rate can be misleading,” he said.

“A falling unemployment rate coupled with strong employment growth is the trend we need to see, but that is not the case for Queensland. 

“The improvement in the unemployment rate is really as a result of significantly less people looking for work and at the same time there are now fewer jobs this month compared to last month and this time last year.

“The number of jobs created is the important story and we are not yet ticking boxes in this area. 

“Queensland businesses are telling us they are starting to see a pickup in sales, but they are wanting to see a firmly established trend in this area before they even think about increasing their workforces.”

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