Major projects in WA are being flooded with job applications, as the unemployment rate climbed from 5.2 per cent in January to 5.9 in February, the highest level of unemployment seen in the mining state since 2003.
In real terms, this represents a jump of 11,200 unemployed people, reaching a total number of 84,300.
Unemployment in WA has now passed the jobless rate in NSW, and is fast approaching the national average of 6 per cent.
At the height of the skills shortage in 2008, the WA unemployment rate was 2.3 per cent, and only five months ago the rate was 4.2 per cent.
Since December, more than 5500 people have applied for work at the Roy Hill construction project alone, which chief executive Barry Fitzgerald has said will rule out the need to hire more foreign workers on 457 visas.
“We are seeing something like 600 people applying for one particular style of job,” Fitzgerald said.
“It’s a mixed blessing. It’s probably good for us, but very unfortunate for those on the other side.”
Fitzgerald said the company was treating every application professionally, despite the large number of applicants.
“We are now faced with the problem of how to manage the number of applicants and expressions of interest we have for people who are seeking an opportunity with Roy Hill in the construction or operations phase,” he said.
The jump in February can partially be attributed to the collapse of mining contractor Forge Group, which left 1500 employees out of work in WA, and $500 million in debts.