Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the national unemployment rate had risen from 5.1% in May to 5.2% in June, with the number of people in jobs decreasing by 27,000 to 631,300.
The increase in unemployment was largely felt across South Australia and Tasmania, while Queensland and Western Australia fared better with a lower jobless rate.
O’Connor said figures indicated Australia’s patchwork economy and supported the union’s push on mining and resource companies to import fewer overseas workers and train more unemployed Australians.
“Rising unemployment is the clearest sign yet that Australia is on the wrong path in accelerating our 457 visa program and enterprise migration agreements,” he said.
Expressing criticism towards mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer, who had voiced the need to import foreign labour for roles facing a skills shortfall, O’Connor said Australian workers were missing out on the resource boom.
“There are thousands of young people, indigenous Australians and of course those recently laid off in the manufacturing and construction sectors who need jobs,” he said.
“Australians deserve to be considered first for work in the resources sector and the government and big business risk a significant backlash if they do not heed the message in these new unemployment numbers and more significantly the overall trend.”
The ABS said the decrease in employment was mainly driven by decreased full time employment which was down 33,500 people to 8 million and was offset by an increase in part time employment which had increased by 6600 people to 3.4 million.
It also reported the labour force participation rate decreased by 0.2% in June to 65.2% and monthly aggregate hours worked also decreased least month from 19.6 million hours to 16 million hours.
O’Connor urged the Reserve Bank of Australia to keep cutting interest rates to place downward pressure on the dollar, in light of the unemployment rates rising at a higher rate in non-resource sector states compared to resources-driven states such as WA and Queensland.
“Both the government and the central bank need to continue to focus on our ailing manufacturing sector which will be the bedrock of our economy long after the cyclical resource boom ends,” O’Connor said.