Jobs growth after the first phase of COVID-19 not fast enough to stop unemployment rising in June

Illawarra Business Chamber executive director Adam Zarth
Illawarra Business Chamber executive director Adam Zarth

Australia's unemployment rate has risen 0.04 per cent to 7.5 per cent since June with the number of people unemployed growing by 15,700 people from 993,700 to 1,009,400.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data reveals employment also increased by 114,700 people to 12,460,800. Full-time employment increased 43,500 to 8,547,100 people and part-time employment increased 71,200 to 3,913,600 people.

Illawarra Business Chamber executive director Adam Zarth said while the unemployment rate has not improved it is clear more people re-entered the workforce in June.

Mr Zarth said it showed while there has been a strong jobs recovery, growth has not been fast enough to absorb the number of new people looking for work. He said NSW had accounted for around half of all the gains made in employment at a national level.

Regional employment and unemployment figures won't be released by the ABS until later this month but Mr Zarth said the Illawarra was tracking well because of the growing diversity of the economy that is now less reliant on just on or two industries. "All the data we have seen is showing the Illawarra is really keeping pace with the rest of the state in terms of its own employment."

With the NSW Premier warning some form of lockdown may be necessary in NSW if the number of COVID cases keeps rising, Mr Zarth said the chamber would push strongly for there to be a regional differentiation for any future lockdowns. "What we have seen is regional infection rates tend to be a reflection of people travelling out of major cities".

South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris

South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris

South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said the union movement would like to see JobKeeper statistics included in the ABS data.

"We need to keep in mind we can't view the unemployment statistics in isolation," Mr Rorris said.

"We need to add the JobKeeper numbers to the unemployment statistics to give us a more well rounded figure of what is likely to happen after September and October. If we do that we are not looking at one million, we are looking at closer to two million Australians who are currently effectively out of work.

"For a region like the Illawarra that means we are looking at between 25,000 and 30,000 Illawarra workers out of work. We are effectively looking at an employment rate that is double what the official statistics are.

"That is because JobKeeper is doing its job. But it is masking those figures. So that 7.5 per cent does not mean much at the moment. We are really looking at a figure that is double that.

"Of course we understand the government can't just click its figures and create jobs. But what we do expect as a bare minimum however is that the government bend over backwards to make sure every Australian, particularly young Australians, have access to vocational education training and university training.

"Now is the time the government needs to put a massive injection into our TAFE and our universities. We need to give our young Australians the best chance to train and re-train if need be."

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This story Jobs growth not fast enough to stop unemployment rising in June first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.