'Economic disaster': WA posts worst jobs figures in almost a decade as pandemic restrictions bite

Jun 18, 2020

By Nathan Hondros

Western Australia has posted its worst employment figures in almost a decade, with the latest figures revealing more than 100,000 jobs have been wiped out since February.

There were 1.38 million people in jobs before the pandemic hit, but that fell to 1.27 million in May.

The number of unemployed people jumped from 75,700 in February to 112,200 in May, a jump of almost 50 per cent.

Australia-wide, the unemployment rate has risen to 7.1 per cent.

Almost 228,000 jobs were wiped out in May alone across the nation and an extra 85,700 people joined unemployment queues.

Unemployment is now highest in WA, at 8.1 per cent, and has climbed to 7.9 per cent in both Queensland and South Australia.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt said he was surprised by the "historically very unattractive figures".

"What doesn't surprise me was that there would be record high figures, we knew that was coming when you effectively close down an economy, but I wouldn't be surprised if these things jump around quite significantly from month to month," he said.

Mr Wyatt said payroll and online jobs data suggested employment would recover quickly.

"I suspect people in the community are feeling that it's much higher than 8 per cent because you are seeing issues around underemployment, but as aggregate hours increase, as we get to the position where payroll data continues to increase, then of course these figures will start to get better," he said.

But the treasurer said the state's interstate border would not be lifted anytime soon.

"What will certainly cause a much higher increase in unemployment is if we lift the borders and have a second wave of coronavirus," he said.

"Make no mistake, the worst thing we could do in Western Australia is lift the borders too early, we have people fly in from another state and we reignite community spread of coronavirus."

Shadow Treasurer Dean Nalder said the numbers were an economic disaster for the state.

"The Premier needs to explain to the people of Western Australia why our unemployment figures are the worst in Australia when he claims that he has managed the COVID-19 pandemic better than any other state in the nation," he said.

"WA has a jobs crisis, businesses are closing every single day and our economy is on life support.

"The Premier was quick to claim all the accolades for the health crisis, but he needs to be accountable for the economic crisis Western Australia finds itself in."

Unemployment in NSW it is at 6.4 per cent while it has reached 6.9 per cent in Victoria. Surprisingly, unemployment fell in the ACT to 4.1 per cent.

Since February, the country has shed 838,000 jobs, although the total number of people unemployed has increased by a much more modest 231,300.

At 927,600, the number of officially unemployed has climbed to its highest level since December 1993, when the country was still recovering from the 1990-91 recession.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt is expected to address media on the figures at Parliament just after midday.

The post about “'Economic disaster': WA posts worst jobs figures in almost a decade as pandemic restrictions bite" first appeared on the WA Today website.

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