Spare capacity in the WA jobs market

Western Australia’s headline unemployment numbers held firm this month, but a rising number of jobseekers are looking for part-time work in the lead-up to Christmas.

In trend terms, our unemployment rate in October remained at 5.7 per cent for a second month, an improvement of 0.1 per cent since August and 0.6 per cent compared to this time last year.

October is the 52nd consecutive month that our unemployment rate has been higher than the national rate of 5.3 per cent.

WA’s youth unemployment rate has worsened from 13.5 per cent to 14.0 per cent, unwelcome news for young job-seekers looking for work over Christmas. WA maintains the third-highest rate of youth unemployment in Australia.

Significantly, today’s data confirms the eight month run of consecutive increases in underemployment. Underemployment rose by 1,700, with 141,800 West Australians wanting more work, but unable to find it. The underutilisation of WA workers reached 15.5 per cent this month. Overall, this indicates that there is more grunt available but unused in the workforce.

The number of unemployed people looking for part-time work increased by over 5,700 to 31,650, the highest number since April 2018.

The relatively high number of West Australians looking for part-time work this month only strengthens the case for the State Government to fix WA’s outdated retail trade regulations. This would enable retailers to offer greater convenience to Christmas shoppers, and more opportunity for WA’s part-time and underemployed workers to earn more money.

Retail employs 135,000 West Australians, but the sector is hamstrung by the worst retail trading hours in Australia. They force businesses to shut their doors while online competitors carry on trading 24/7.

This month, CCI welcomed the State Government’s decision to reduce the payroll tax burden on WA businesses.

Dealing with WA’s outdated retail restrictions is an obvious next step for a State Government that has demonstrated their willingness to take measures to boost jobs in our State.

 

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