Western Australia’s unemployment rate has spiked to 6.9 per cent in March – the highest unemployment rate in the nation and the highest in the State in 16 years.

Over the last year the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) has recommended policy settings that the WA Government must change or risk further job creation.

CCI Chief Economist Rick Newnham said WA has the most restrictive retail trading hours and the highest payroll tax on jobs in the nation.

“This latest spike in unemployment, with 8,412 full-time jobs being lost from the WA economy, is the result of these anti-job policies,” Mr Newnham said.

“The Government cannot expect low unemployment in WA when it increased payroll tax in its last budget, putting a handbrake on SMEs taking on more employees, and has walked away from supporting the upskilling of the WA workforce by removing the Payroll Tax Exemption for existing employees.

“The WA economy remains in a fragile state and needs the right policies from the WA Government to recover.”

Youth unemployment in WA has also risen to 17.1 per cent – the highest in Australia and the highest in WA since 1996, more than two decades ago.

“Youth unemployment is now a major issue in WA. If the WA Government is serious about creating jobs for young people it must immediately make plans to deregulate retail trading hours,” Mr Newnham said.

“We can’t have WA retailers entering the fray of the digital economy with their hands cuffed when the retail sector provides 420,000 jobs for Australian youth each year.

“CCI will continue to advocate for job creating policy and calls on the Government to take notice of these alarm bells by committing to no increases in taxes, fees or charges on business in the upcoming budget.

“The WA budget in May will be critical for jobs. It’s up to the Government to decide if they want it to be a high taxing, high spending budget that risks jobs or to deliver a job creating budget.”