Yesterday, ABS released the latest labour force estimates for June 2017. South Australia’s trend jobless rate, while still the highest in the nation, has declined from 7.8 per cent in June 2015 (67,900 persons) to 7.0 per cent in June 2017 (61,300). The participation rate has been stable at 62.4 per cent over the same period with an increase in the number of underemployed persons looking for more hours of work from 84,300 to 88,800. The increase in the number of employed persons from June 2015 to 2017 was 15,400 (male full-time= 10,000; female full-time =5,400). The rate of increase in employment in South Australia was 2.0 per cent below the Australia average of 3.6 per cent, with New South Wales and Victoria having the strongest growth rates on the back of sustained population increase and housing construction. Population increase in South Australia is just one of the ‘missing ingredients’ required to achieve higher and sustained employment growth.
Policy announcements in South Australia have contributed to the stronger growth in employment in recent times including, inter alia, reductions in business taxation and the subsidisation of employment through the Job Accelerator Grant program. Arguably, the latter is not sustainable in the longer term, but has an important short-term benefit in boosting employment, training and skills development provided the job subsidies are directed to skill shortages and mismatch in the labour market. It is important to maintain ‘job-ready’ skills, aptitudes and capability in times of high unemployment. While not reported in the ABS Labour Force data the announcement of the sale of the Whyalla steel works and future planned investment by BHP at Olympic Dam are positives for South Australia.
Motor Vehicles Sales
ABS releases state level estimates of sales of new motor vehicles on a monthly basis based on data collected by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. The data provides insight into short term trends in state and national spending levels. The national data also used to be particularly interesting from a South Australian perspective as interstate markets were an important source of demand for locally produced vehicles. However, with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation ceasing local vehicle production in 2008 and vehicle assembly at General Motors Holden’s Elizabeth plant scheduled to cease in October, this form of economic activity will soon no longer be present in South Australia.
The latest data released by the ABS on Tuesday indicates that sales of new motor vehicles in South Australia in trend terms rose by 1.1 per cent in June 2017 to be up 4.0 per cent compared to a year earlier. In comparison, sales at the national level rose by 1.0 per cent in June to be 3.2 per cent higher over the past year. Both South Australian and national sales have risen strongly over recent months after softening early in the year, and are currently at record levels.