Gov’t Warned on Growing Queensland Unemployment

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Friday, July 15th, 2016
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Queensland’s rising unemployment should serve as a warning to the government that it needs to do more to boost the state’s economy, a business lobby group says.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Queensland’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly in June to 6.5 per cent – a 0.1 per cent increase compared to May.

The state’s jobless rate is still far higher than the national average of 5.8 per cent, which also rose by 0.1 percentage points.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland spokesman Nick Behrens said his organisation had repeatedly warned the state government the unemployment rate was a “lag measure” that would only get worse if the domestic economy continued to shrink.

“If we don’t get the domestic economy firing, Queensland’s labour market will continue to deteriorate and we will see that unemployment rate creep up and up and up,” Mr Behrens told AAP.

He said the jobless rate would then continue to rise until it was above the 6.6 per cent trend rate (6.7 per cent seasonally adjusted) when the Palaszczuk Labor government came into power in February last year.

Mr Behrens said the government’s regional employment focus unveiled in last month’s state budget wouldn’t be enough to stop the trend, particularly given the state’s infrastructure spend as a percentage of gross state product was historically low.

“If anything, what you’re seeing is a shift in emphasis from Queensland in its entirety to regional Queensland,” he said.

“With the limited pool of money this state government has, they’re almost pushing it all out into regional Queensland to try to alleviate what is very much a worsening picture.”

But Treasurer Curtis Pitt insisted the increased unemployment rate showed how important his jobs-focused budget was needed.

“We have an economy in Queensland that is in transition from a post-mining boom,” he said.

Shadow Treasurer Scott Emerson said the latest figures showed Queensland was “falling further and further behind the rest of Australia and people are losing their jobs because this government has no plan”.

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