WA's unemployment rate fell from from 6.3 per cent in December to 5.9 per cent in January, while the national jobless rate rose to 6.0 per cent from 5.8 per cent.
Treasurer Mike Nahan took a positive view of lower oil prices, softer rents, “greater labour availability” and a “more competitive” exchange rate, saying they had supported growth in agriculture, education, tourism and health.
He also said a multi-billion dollar infrastructure spend had created tens of thousands of jobs in the construction and supply industries.
Like Dr Nahan, WA Premier Colin Barnett noted the volatility of month-to-month comparisons, but said the state had probably seen the worst of the post-mining boom job losses.
“Many of those have probably been absorbed into other jobs, particularly building and construction around Perth, so I think we’ve probably bottomed out,” Mr Barnett said.
The WA government is in the midst of an asset sales program to trim debt, which is forecast to hit $29.6 billion this financial year, jumping to $39 billion by 2018/19.