Treasurer Joe Hockey has announced that Australia’s unemployment rate has grown to 6%. The unemployment rate has not been this high since July 2003. It reached a peak of 5.9% in June 2009, during the worst period of the global financial crisis. The unemployment rate is expected to increase to 6.25% in coming months.

In a press conference, Hockey acknowledged that “we need to have structural change” in order to avoid expected further increases in unemployment. The Treasurer implied that the previous Labor government was largely responsible for the swell, stating that the unemployment rate is “usually three to six months behind changes in the growth rate.”

Following the announcement, financial experts reaffirmed their predictions that the unemployment rate would improve in time, but also provided the caveat that this could occur at a slower pace than previously expected.

In response to this news, the Australian dollar fell below 90 US cents. Hockey’s announcement follows a difficult week for the Australia government, economy and manufacturing sector. Just days before the release of up-to-date unemployment figures, Toyota announced its decision to cease manufacturing in Australia. SPC Ardoma also endured a dramatic week; its request for a $25 million assistance package was rejected by the Abbott government, with Victoria’s Napthine government then stepping in to pledge $22 million.