Why positive jobs data may not be as promising as it sounds

A DECREASE in the number of unemployed people in the Wide Bay region sounds promising, but it's not as simple as that.

Since January 2019 and current to July, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the total number of unemployed persons in Wide Bay has dropped from 9900 to 8900.

This is mirrored in a drop in the unemployment rate from 8.1 per cent in January to 7.4 per cent in July.

It sounds like progress is being made, but here are some of the less talked about figures from the same period of time:

The participation rate has dropped 0.6 per cent.

The total labour force has dropped by about 800 people.

The total employed persons increased by 200.

The numbers don't seem to correlate with a system attempting to shift people off welfare and into the workforce.

Bundaberg branch manager for Sarina Russo Employment Agency Melissa Latter said there were a number of factors that could potentially be influencing the data.

"We've seen a huge increase in the volume of people going into the workforce in the last 6-12 months, however they're not always working enough to get them off benefits," she said.

She said the matter of being underemployed rather than flatly unemployed could also be an impacting factor.

"That just takes time sometimes when you're in long-term unemployment, sometimes going into something that's not enough hours to build up some recent experience is actually quite beneficial to a candidate."

Ms Latter said part-time and seasonal work could also influence figures.

"People can become employed for a period of 6 months but become unemployed again for the next six months, especially with the crush," she said.

"Some people don't go back on benefits because they've earned enough in that period, other people might go back on benefits for the next six months."

New data is speculated to release next week detailing Wide Bay's labour force statistics for August.