Surprise Illawarra jobless rate bucks trend

"If you look at the mining sector and the job cuts that have been going on there, they're not really reflected in these numbers."

"If you look at the mining sector and the job cuts that have been going on there, they're not really reflected in these numbers."

The Illawarra jobless rate recorded a surprising drop in July - to 5.8 per cent.

The regional figure had been tipped to rise above 7 per cent, given the national figure of 6.4 per cent.

However, the regional figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed a drop of one percentage point from June's 6.8 per cent.

Illawarra Regional Information Service executive director Simon Pomfret said the figure needed to be treated cautiously as it could be an anomaly.

"It's quite surprising to me that they've trended down," Mr Pomfret said.

"They're against the national trend. I think it's a wait-and-see approach. They contradict the other information that we've been getting.

"If they do continue to hold up, then they're good news. But the sentiment from the business community is not really reflective of these numbers at this stage.

"If you look at the mining sector and the job cuts that have been going on there, they're not really reflected in these numbers."

Mr Pomfret said IRIS surveys of businesses in the Illawarra had been showing negative sentiment for the past 12 months and became more severe in the last three months.

Also, a July IRIS survey on employment status of 500 Illawarra households estimated an unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent, he said.

The ABS statistics show a much smaller drop in youth unemployment, from 19.2 per cent to 18.7 per cent.

Mr Pomfret said part of the reason for the continued high youth-unemployment figures could be that university students from out of the region lived here during session and took the low-skilled retail jobs.

"The work we've done on youth unemployment over the last few years, finding a job is the last thing on their radar. It's all about getting their life together and finding somewhere to live."

To collate the national unemployment figures, the ABS conducts monthly interviews with about 26,000 households across Australia. Those same households were also used in the regional breakdown, said ABS Labour Force Survey manager Stephen Collett.

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