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Government is making employers cautious: Hockey

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey blames uncertainty over the federal government’s proposed carbon and mining taxes for employers being cautious about hiring.


Australian Bureau of Statistics data released on Thursday showed the jobless rate unexpectedly spiking for a second consecutive month in August, hitting a 10-month high of 5.3 per cent as nearly 10,000 jobs were lost.

“Poor decision-making by the government and uncertainty created by the coming carbon and mining taxes are causing employers to be cautious in their hiring,” Mr Hockey said in a brief statement.

“There can be no excuses for rising unemployment at a time when the country is experiencing unprecedented demand for resources and 140-year highs in the terms of trade.”

The total number of people employed fell by a seasonally adjusted 9700 in August compared to the previous month, when economists had predicted a 12,000 increase.

Full-time employment fell by 12,600, and was only partially offset by 2900 increase in part-time workers.

The data comes just 24 hours after the national accounts showed the economy rebounded by a strong 1.2 per cent in the June quarter, its fastest pace in four years, and coming after a weak first three months of the year in the wake of last summer’s natural disasters.

Jobs Minister Chris Evans said Australia’s fundamentals remain “very strong”, providing good prospects for employment growth.

“We think we will continue to see jobs growth in Australia over coming months,” Senator Evans told reporters in Perth.

He said Thursday’s labour force data reflected the patchwork nature of the economy, with growth in some states and, surprisingly, a fall in jobs in mining states like Western Australia.

Senator Evans said Australia remained in a strong economic situation compared with the global position.

“The reality is we’re dealing with those global factors, the loss of confidence in the international economy and the downturn internationally is having its impact on our trade-exposed sectors,” he said.

The jobless rate in Queensland jumped to 6.2 per cent in August from 5.7 per cent in July, while in Western Australia it rose to 4.4 per cent from 4.0 per cent.

It also rose to 5.4 per cent from 5.3 per cent in NSW, to 5.2 per cent from 5.1 per cent in Tasmania and to 4.2 per cent from 4.1 per cent in the Northern Territory.

The jobless rate was unchanged at 5.1 per cent in Victoria and at 4.0 per cent in the ACT.

However, unemployment fell to 5.1 per cent from 5.2 per cent in South Australia.