Image for Job numbers ‒ good, bad, ugly

First, the good news. Tasmania is not, for the moment, the place with Australia’s highest unemployment rate. That accolade has now gone to South Australia, where the wrecking of manufacturing has sent the seasonally-adjusted figure for May up another 0.4% to 7.6%.

Tasmanian unemployment, after a huge bump between March and April from 6.6% to 7.3%, has now retreated to 7.0% ‒ still awful but not, on the face of it, quite as awful.

On the face of it. But when you look beyond the Australian Bureau of Statistics headline figure, the picture becomes gloomier, apparently better only because fewer people are looking for work.

According to the seasonally-adjusted figures, 1900 full-time jobs were lost over the month, a total decline of 3800 in just two months. The decline in May was partly offset by a rise in part-time employment, defined as people performing one hour or more of paid work over the month.

There are now an estimated 18,000 Tasmanians who are now officially out of work and who don’t even get one hour’s work a month.

All the full-time job losses, overall, affect men. Among women, full-time and part-time employment each rose by 100 jobs.

More people are under-employed ‒ that is, wanting more work but unable to get it ‒ than in the month before. The rate rose from 17.6% to 18% ‒ still the highest in the country.

Other data released simultaneously by the ABS show how much less Tasmanians are earning than people in other states. Average weekly total cash earnings here were $986.70 against a national average of $1,182.40 ‒ a difference of $195.70 a week.

We also have the second-oldest workforce, with an average age of 40.2 years against a national average of 39.5. South Australia pips us again, with 40.5.

All up, these are bad figures, and even worse than for the month before.

Peter Gutwein: Unemployment figures