Australian unemployment rate rises to 6.9 pct amid lockdown in Victoria state
Australia's unemployment rate has increased slightly due to a strict COVID-19 lockdown imposed in the nation's second-most populous state.
According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday, the official unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in September, up from 6.8 percent in August but still well below July's 22-year high of 7.5 percent.
The number of employed Australians fell by 29,500 between August and September.
Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, said the September data provides further insights into the labor market impacts from the Stage 4 restrictions in Victoria, the hardest-hit state by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, which has been under lockdown in recent months because of a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
"Employment in Victoria decreased by 36,000, following a fall of 37,000 in August. Hours worked in the state fell by a further 2.1 percent, following the 4.6 percent fall in August," Jarvis said in the media release on Thursday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the figures would have shown employment growth if not for the setback in Victoria.
"We've already had a very strong bounce back over the last few months," Morrison said, adding that more than 170,000 jobs all around the country have come back in the last two months.
The number of hours worked by Australians rose by 0.5 percent in September but remained 5.1 percent lower than in March.
Underemployment, which measures the percentage of Australians working fewer hours than they want or need, rose 0.1 percent to 11.4 percent -- three percentage points higher than at the same time in 2019