The Shadow Treasurer Dr Steve Thomas says that the current plunge in the Western Australian seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to 2.9% reflects a strong economy but also represents a dramatic shortage of workers.

“Businesses across the length and breadth of our State are struggling to find workers, and to see the unemployment rate drop below 3% highlights this significant economic issue” Dr Thomas said.

“For the Western Australian economy to continue to grow and flourish workers will have to be found, and the number announced today demonstrates that they are not here now.”

“This should sound a warning to the Government that they will need to focus on both increasing the number of workers coming in from interstate and overseas, and on training as many people as possible locally.”

“The competition for labour will be tough when the national unemployment rate is under 4%, which means that every state will be fighting fiercely for all the workers they can get.”

Dr Thomas said that the numbers released by the ABS today were an indication of the strength of the economy both in Western Australia and nationally.

“Like so much economic data this is another double-edged sword – great economic activity but it highlights a current and future threat in terms of worker shortages that could limit economic growth into the future.”

“I see small businesses across the state who have cut back their activities because they can’t find workers.”

“A further tightening of the labour market means there is no short-term solution to the staff shortages, and I want to see the McGowan State Government accept and acknowledge this.”

“Simply boasting about the low rate of unemployment, which is actually thanks mainly to private sector investment and activity, not McGowan Government policy, will not be enough.”

“Of the roughly 1.5 million employed workers in Western Australia, less than 10% of those Government employees, and the Government numbers are not the cause of the drop because public servant number change slowly.”

“A plan to deal with labour shortages is critical to the state over the next couple of years.”