Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls seized on the figures, which showed trend employment in the state had risen for the sixth consecutive month.
Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls seized on the figures, which showed trend employment in the state had risen for the sixth consecutive month. Kari Bourne

Unemployment rate at highest level in more than three years

FIGURES showing an increase in Australia's jobless rate in March should act as a "warning flare", the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says.

Australia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped 0.2% to 5.6%, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed on Thursday, its highest level in more than three years.

The number of people in work fell by more than 36,000 for the month, in stark contrast to the 74,000 increase in February, while there was an almost 26,000 jump in the number of unemployed people.

ACCI chief economist Greg Evans said the figures were concerning and strengthened the case for the Reserve Bank to cut the cash rate.

"Today's data indicates the worst monthly decline in employment in a decade and the highest unemployment rate since the global financial crisis," Mr Evans said.

"Amongst many sectors we are seeing hiring restraint or shedding including in construction, retail and manufacturing and there is no signal this is improving.

"We are concerned the mainstream economy may not be growing sufficiently to keep a lid on an unemployment rate which is trending higher."

Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls seized on the figures, which showed trend employment in the state had risen for the sixth consecutive month.

Mr Nicholls said Queensland had bucked the national trend, with the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rising in all other states and territories except South Australia.

He said this was a sign of economic growth under the Newman government.


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