Queensland treasurer urges federal government to dip into ‘election war chest’ amid a jobs slump

By Melissa Coade

Friday May 21, 2021

Cameron Dick
Cameron Dick (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

New labour force data has shown that four months of jobs growth in Queensland is over, with the state Labor government declaring that Scott Morrison’s ‘rip off of Queenslanders’ must end.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released today found that the jobs growth rate Queensland had been enjoying ended in April, with the loss of 7,400 jobs. 

The news is being attributed to what the state government says was an ‘abrupt end’ to the federal government’s JobKeeper scheme that wound up at the end of March 2021. However the ABS contends that nationwide, the JobKeeper wage subsidy ending ‘did not have a discernible impact on employment between March and April’.

Queensland treasurer Cameron Dick said the dent in jobs growth was a ‘setback’ to a period of what had been Australia’s strongest employment rate performance (increasing by 2.1%) compared with other states and territories. In the last 12 months alone, the sunshine state has seen growth in employment (by 7.8%), a boost to labour force (by 6.5%) and a positive trend for the participation rate (by 3.4%).

“Since the pandemic first impacted Australia in March 2020, Queensland has seen the largest growth in jobs in Australia, with an additional 54,900 jobs,” Dick said. 

“By comparison, New South Wales, which lost 36,700 jobs in April alone, is yet to recover all the jobs lost during the pandemic.”

The treasurer called for the federal government to draw down on its ‘election war chest worth about $9 billion’, which was revealed in the 2021 budget, and invest to keep voters employed.

“Scott Morrison must use this money to end his rip off of Queenslanders and to reverse the jobs lost following his abrupt end to JobKeeper,” he said. 

Dick added that since 2015 when the Palaszczuk Government took office, 307,4000 jobs had been created. 

Commenting on the nation-wide trend, where the unemployment rate tracked as being only 2.0 percentage points below its peak in July 2020, the ABS’s head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said that 33,000 extra Australians were out of work compared with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The youth unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since the Global Financial Crisis, reflecting a strong increase in employment for young men, following a number of increases for young women in recent months,” Jarvis said. 

“The 31,000 (or 0.2 per cent) fall in employment was due to a decline in female employment, down by 0.6 per cent, while male employment increased by 0.1 per cent. Female hours fell by 1.6 per cent, while male hours remained steady,” he said. 

According to the ABS, Australia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has enjoyed another drop (for the sixth consecutive time) down from 6.9 per cent in October 2020. In April, the nationwide unemployment rate fell to 5.5%.

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