The jobless rate rose to six per cent in June, returning to a level seen at the beginning of the year.
A renewed rise in the jobless rate is likely to worry Australians more than a delay in the vague promise of being better off when the carbon tax goes.
The unemployment rate jumped to six per cent in June, coinciding with a state of confusion in the Senate that ended in the government having to sit out a few more days before it can scrap Labor’s fixed carbon price.
Employment Minister Eric Abetz was adamant that rising unemployment demonstrated the need to abolish the tax.
“Getting rid of the tax is essential to rebooting the economy and promoting jobs growth,” he said on Thursday.
The jobless rate returned to six per cent, a level last touched in February and rising from an upwardly revised 5.9 per cent in May.
The increase came as more people sought work and despite the number of people being employed growing by 15,900 in June.
A 19,700 increase in part-time workers was partly offset by a 3800 decline in full-time workers.
Senator Abetz put that down a soft labour market, arguing it underpinned the urgent need for the government’s plan to create jobs and build a stronger economy.
But opposition employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor says the government has no plan for jobs, just plans for cuts.
The government was cutting $1 billion from training programs when youth unemployment has risen to 13.5 per cent, while telling young people to “learn or earn”.
“Under this prime minister, unemployment rate has a six in front of it … yet this government has no plans to create jobs,” he said.
Data this week showed that while business has taken a downturn in consumer confidence in its stride, there’s no rush to hire people.
National Australia Bank senior economist Spiros Papadopoulos expects the unemployment rate will get worse before it get better, forecasting a peak of 6.2 per cent by the end of the year.
That’s roughly in line with government predictions in the May budget.
It also means the Reserve Bank will be holding its line on interest rates for “some time”.
The government’s carbon tax repeal legislation returns to parliament’s lower house on Monday.
The government continues to predict its end will ease cost-of-living pressures on households by an average $550 a year.
It will be a year before consumers can gauge how close to the mark is that estimate, and even then it is only an average.
That suggests many people will get less.