ACT News

ACT unemployment rate no longer the lowest in Australia

The ACT no longer has the lowest unemployment rate in Australia, with an increase to 4.6 per cent during September taking it to the territory's highest rate since September 2001.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' latest labour force report, the ACT was one of only three jurisdictions whose unemployment increased, with the trend rate rising from 6.6 to 6.7 per cent in Victoria and from 6.3 to 6.4 per cent in Queensland.

In August, the ACT unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent was equal with the Northern Territory's but as the unemployment increased in Canberra, it fell to 4.3 per cent in NT.

The ACT's 4.6 per cent is the highest trend rate for the territory since the bureau recorded 4.6 per cent in September 2001.  

The participation rate in the ACT fell by 0.2 percentage points to 70.5 per cent during September, the lowest rate since 70.3 per cent in March 1987.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said the figures were disappointing but not surprising.

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"These figures at a jurisdictional level mask the fact that behind all these numbers are real people who have lost jobs or found it difficult to get one," she said.

"Whilst it's easy to lay the blame at Commonwealth job cuts, the focus for the ACT government must be in supporting the local economy, seeking investment into the city, promoting the private sector opportunities and rolling out our $ 2.5 billion infrastructure program.

"[This program] has been specifically targeted to build important social infrastructure like hospitals, schools and public transport and which will support local jobs directly and indirectly – at a time when the Commonwealth is withdrawing investment."

Ms Gallagher said the ACT government could not ameliorate all the impacts of Commonwealth job losses but it would continue to "talk up" Canberra and the opportunities available in the territory.

Nationally, the unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points to 6.1 per cent in September with close to 30,000 fewer people registered as employed during the month.

The national participation rate was down 0.2 percentage points to 64.5, which was slightly lower than expectations of 64.8 per cent.

Tasmania continues to have the highest unemployment rate in Australia at 7.2 per cent followed by Victoria with 6.7 per cent, Queensland with 6.4 per cent, and South Australia with 6.3 per cent. 

The latest ABS figures come after the bureau admitted their July and August figures were volatile, which had made it difficult for investors and policymakers to determine the state of the economy.  

The ABS said on Wednesday it would scrap its normal practice of seasonally adjusting the monthly labour force survey, starting with September figures.

It also removed the adjustment for July and August because there was "little evidence of seasonality" in those months.

In response to the ABS figures, Employment Minister Eric Abetz said the federal government remained focused on creating an economic environment where more job opportunities could be created.

"The unemployment figures illustrated the extent of the challenges Australia faces, especially for young Australians looking for work," he said. 

- with Mark Mulligan