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WA employment rallies despite national downturn

Despite national figures showing an increase in unemployment, Western Australia has bucked the trend by also registering increased employment – with an increase of 22,000 jobs according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The increase in jobs is the highest increase on record in over 25 years, the most recent being March 1993.

17,700 of those jobs were picked up by women – an encouraging sign as they were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

Due to the survey timeframes, the positive effects of the easing of restrictions in WA will take time to be fully reflected in the data.

This report was prepared using survey information between May 31, 2020 to June 13, 2020, one week into Phase 3 easing of restrictions and before Phase 4 (June 27) came into effect.

In line with expectations, the report shows contradictory results with both employment and unemployment increasing.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt confirmed this in a statement to the press yesterday.

“Today’s unemployment data is starting to demonstrate the changes in both State and Commonwealth policies, with an increase in the employment rate, but also an increase in the unemployment rate,” Mr Wyatt said.

“I expect over the next few months we will see slightly contradictory data of increasing employment and unemployment, as the Commonwealth make changes to JobSeeker and JobKeeper and the full benefits of WA’s easing of restrictions are captured in these reports.”

Mr Wyatt also acknowledged that he rise in unemployment is underpinned by the obligation to look for work to receive JobSeeker resuming during the survey period (June 9), which means these people are now captured in the ABS data, where they had not been previously. 

“As for the unemployment rate today, it’s important to note that for the first time since the beginning of COVID-19 that people who are looking for work have been considered as unemployed in this data because obligations to look for work through JobSeeker have resumed,” he said.

“We believe this is what has largely increased overall unemployment in the data today. 

“We’ve always said the economic data will be highly volatile for some time and I expect we will continue to see volatile data over the coming months.”

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