22 February 2021

Jump in jobless numbers should be 'viewed with caution'

| Dominic Giannini
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Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr

Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

ACT unemployment has jumped 0.7 per cent to 4.4 per cent defying a national trend which saw a drop of 0.2 per cent according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Despite the slight increase, the ACT’s unemployment rate remains the lowest in the county and is a full two percentage points lower that the national rate of 6.4 per cent.

The national decrease amounted to an additional 29,000 jobs between December 2020 and January 2021.

An ACT Government spokesperson said unemployment figures can be particularly volatile around this time of year “due to many businesses closing down for holidays and people taking leave”.

“In addition, the Australian Bureau of Statistics usually publishes trend data for the ACT, as being a small jurisdiction can add to volatility in estimates, however, the trend series has been suspended due to COVID-19 and the seasonally adjusted data reported today is more volatile.

“For this reason, monthly outcomes should be viewed with caution and once the March quarter data is available it will provide a better reflection of the position of the ACT labour market.”

READ ALSO BUDGET ACT Budget: Business needs ongoing support, social housing boost missing

The rise in employment is against a backdrop of uncertainty in the business community with JobKeeper payments set to taper off in March.

Hands Like Houses bass player Joel Tyrell said it is a different world and that the band would struggle once the subsidy is ended next month.

“We’ll keep making music and finding ways to perform, but as a business, the situation is definitely at breaking point for us,” he said.

“It is a whole different world now, and we have to consider if we need to get a heap of money from private investors or a new record deal.

“We have built a business over 10 years and now we just don’t have the capital we were hoping to have”

The rate of underemployment in the Territory fell from 6 to 5.7 per cent, the lowest in Australia by more than one per cent.

Head of labour statistics at the ABS, Bjorn Jarvis, said January was the fourth consecutive monthly rise in employment, helped along by Victoria’s economic recovery following months of lockdown throughout 2020.

More than 870,000 people lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic, but these figures have recovered to 59,000 fewer jobs now compared to March 2020 when the bulk of restrictions started in Australia.

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phillipbusinesscommunity10:32 am 24 Feb 21

This is an interesting statistic, as many Small Businesses have noticed a drop in the volume of cash being spent in the local economy.

Capital Retro12:56 pm 24 Feb 21

I don’t think on-line sales are flourishing either given the now irregular sighting of the delivery vans in my neighbourhood.

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