b>The recovery in Tasmania’s employment figures, after slowing in recent months, came to a halt in February.

The latest labour force data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that in seasonally-adjusted terms, the unemployment rate rose to 6.6% from 6.5% the month before.

The rate was steady in trend terms at 6.5%.

This, at least for now, ends the strong recovery in job numbers that began in mid-2013 in the last year of the Labor-Green government. In July 2013 the trend unemployment figure was 8.1% and stood at 7.5% when the election was held in March last year.

Tasmanian unemployment remains lower than South Australia’s and Queensland’s. But the recovery in South Australia is now the strongest in the nation.

At 5.6% in trend terms, Western Australia’s rate remained the lowest of all the states and was surpassed only by the territories.

Fewer Tasmanians were looking for work in February. The participation rate, which measures those people in work or looking for work, seasonally adjusted, fell from 60.9% to 60.8%. The trend figure fell from 61.1% to 60.9%.

If the participation rate had not fallen, the rate of unemployment would have been still higher.

Overall employment numbers fell according to both the sets of estimates. According to the seasonally adjusted figure, there were 800 fewer people in jobs in February than the month before.
A small rise in full-time jobs was more than offset by a fall in part-time work.

If the recovery in unemployment figures continues to stall in coming months, it will put to further question the government’s claim to be responsible for improving the state’s economy.
The Treasurer, Mr Gutwein, issued an unusually brief statement on the figures.

‘While there is still a long way to go and more work to be done, the latest figures are encouraging as they show we are holding on to the gains that have been made,’ he said.
Next month’s data will be closely watched.

Peter Gutwein: Employment figures

Scott Bacon: Jobs steady but participation heading in wrong direction