ABS figures show mixed news on the jobs front

State Liberal leader Steven Marshall has labelled current South Australian employment a ‘catastrophic job crisis’, after the release of new jobs data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

The comments, however, appear to be based on Adelaide-specific statistics, as the situation doesn’t appear to be as dire in the Port Augusta region. 

The data revealed that the number of unemployed people in Adelaide has hit its’ highest level in 14 years, with a total of 46,000 people currently unemployed, and an unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent in December of last year (its highest level in five years). 

But according to an ABS report, in the Northern and Western SA region to which Port Augusta belongs, the number of unemployed people has actually reduced since mid last year. 

Across 2013, the numbers fluctuated. 

The year began with a total number of unemployed people in the region of 5,000. 

That number steadily increased into March, hitting 5,900 unemployed persons. 

After a significant drop down to 2,400 in May, the figures made a concerning jump to 6,100 in July. 

Since July of last year,  the total number reduced to 4,600 in December, with the numbers staying fairly consistent between 4,000 and 4,600 in the last four months of 2013. 

Concerns have been voiced, however,  regarding the apparent lack of work available to jobseekers in Port Augusta. 

Local mother Ruth Burnett managed to secure employment in aged care last year, but said she spent almost two years on the job hunting circuit before finally getting lucky. 

“It takes a long time to get a job here in town...there are jobs out there, but they’re scarce,” she said. 

With her partner unable to work and a family to support, she said it was an extremely stressful time. 

Ms Burnett hypothesized the problem may lie in the limited amount of unskilled work available in the region.

“There’s plenty of work, but it’s hard to get because they’re looking for qualified people,” she said. 

“They’re looking for boilermakers, accountants, teachers...stuff like that.”

She was shocked to hear that the unemployment figures had recently reduced in the Port Augusta region.

“There always seems to be so many people out of work,” she said.

Business SA director of policy Rick Cairney said across the state, South Australia experienced an overall rise of 0.8% in the unemployment rate during 2013. 

“It is a timely reminder to both major political parties that job creation continues to be a critical issue, particularly over the next few years as we deal with the impact of Holden’s exit from South Australia,” he said. 

“With youth unemployment three times that of total unemployment and four per cent above the national average, there must be a renewed focus on creating job opportunities for young people to keep them in South Australia and provide a bright future here.”

EMPLOYMENT: Ruth Burnett, pictured here with children Adrian and Michirias Douglas, said she experienced huge difficulties in finding employment in Port Augusta.

EMPLOYMENT: Ruth Burnett, pictured here with children Adrian and Michirias Douglas, said she experienced huge difficulties in finding employment in Port Augusta.

This story ABS figures show mixed news on the jobs front first appeared on The Transcontinental.