Figures out today show Australia’s unemployment rate has risen to 5.9 per cent in February.
THE jobless rate has unexpectedly jumped to 5.9 per cent, its highest level in just over a year, as the economy shed 6400 jobs in February.
Economists had tipped today’s labour force figures to show the unemployment rate remaining at 5.7 per cent, and an employment rise of just under 20,000.
There was some positive news, with a 27,100 rise in fulltime employment after a steep drop the previous month, although this was wiped out by a 33,500 tumble in part-time workers.
The shift to part-time work in the past year saw the underemployment rate — people looking for extra work — returning to a record high 8.7 per cent or 1.1 million workers.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the figures were “disappointing”.
“For me the most disturbing news about the jobs landscape in Australia is that we now have the highest ever number of people who are underemployed,” Mr Shorten said.
“Over 1.1 million of our fellow Australians have reported to the ABS they would like more work than they are getting.”
Mr Shorten again took the opportunity to push the Government to intervene in the Fair Work Commission’s decision on Sunday penalty rates.
Cabinet minister Simon Birmingham said he was encouraged by the rise in fulltime employment after a steep drop the previous month.
However, this was more than offset by the tumble in part-time workers.
“We are acutely aware that there are too many Australians who remain unemployed, without the security and dignity of work, and that significant economic challenges lie ahead,” Senator Birmingham said in a statement.
“That’s why we’re committed to creating the right policy frameworks that will facilitate stronger jobs growth so that all Australians can take advantage of new, emerging job opportunities.”
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Queensland rose from 6.3 per cent in January to 6.7 per cent, the highest in the country and its highest level since April 2015.
Queensland leapfrogged South Australia on 6.6 per cent, while NSW recorded a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.2 per cent and Victoria 6.1 per cent.
Meanwhile, another report forecast an improved employment outlook.
Detail in the Westpac-Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry industrial trends survey showed fundamentals are pointing to employment growth of two per cent or slightly higher in 2017.
“If that is achieved it would be a significant turnaround from last year when jobs growth was a little bit less than one per cent,” Westpac senior economist Andrew Hanlan told reporters in Canberra.