Small business concerns at rising Queensland unemployment

Thursday 19 May, 2016

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) says next month’s State Budget is even more crucial to the local economy following a further rise in unemployment.

CCIQ Director of Advocacy Nick Behrens said there had been concerns that Queensland’s improving labour market across 2015 was coming to an end – and this was reflected in latest ABS statistics.

“Today’s labour market figures indicate an increase in Queensland’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate from 6.2 per cent in March to 6.5 per cent in April, with an additional 7400 people registered as unemployed during the month,” he said.

“For two months running Queensland has been swimming against the flow, being one of only two states with rising unemployment rates. Our unemployment rate of 6.5 per cent compares to the national average of 5.7 per cent.

“In trend terms, the state’s unemployment rate – as predicted by CCIQ – is now on the rise, bottoming out at 6.0 per cent in February and steadily rising in March (6.1 per cent) and April (6.2 per cent).

“Both the trend and seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate measures for Queensland are now at least half a per cent higher than the national average.”

Mr Behrens said he was not surprised with the new labour market data. CCIQ treated both the unemployment rate and employment as lag measures.

“Repeatedly, ABS data measuring Queensland’s domestic economy has indicated widespread difficulty in the Sunshine State,” he said.

“The majority of Queensland small businesses have cited a challenging trading environment with relatively flat sales, rising operational costs squeezing profitability and ongoing capacity of employee hours of work.”

The number of employed in seasonally adjusted (-5600) and trend (-4100) terms decreased substantially in April.

“Next month’s State Budget (June 14) has to double down on efforts to help the Queensland economy transition from the resources boom to a more diversified economy,” Mr Behrens said.

“For example, the Advance Queensland initiative is worth only $180 million across four years, compared to a $305 billion Queensland economy. It is but a drop in the ocean and substantially more is needed.

“Measures such as lifting the payroll tax exemption threshold to $1.2 million, at least another $5 billion infrastructure spend each year and meaningful red tape reduction is desperately needed.

“The Premier last week promised CCIQ a small business-friendly Budget and this must be delivered.”

 mar 16 labour

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