WA's jobless rate the worst in Australia

Ben Wyatt says it's a fallacy to assume interstate visitors will drive an economic turnaround in WA

Western Australia has recorded the nation's biggest spike in unemployment, heaping further pressure on the government to relax its hard interstate border.

But Treasurer Ben Wyatt says it's a fallacy to assume interstate visitors will drive an economic turnaround.

WA's jobless rate jumped to a nation-high 8.1 per cent in May, up from 6.1 per cent in April, amid continued fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. It equates to a loss of more than 30,000 jobs.

Mr Wyatt says the figures should not be viewed in isolation, noting more recent data which showed an increase in hours worked after WA wound back some COVID-19 restrictions.

The Liberal opposition and the state's tourism industry say the state must reopen to save jobs, despite most West Australians backing the restrictions.

But the government remains adamant there can be no change until the situation improves in the eastern states.

"I look at Victoria quite closely and I note that their coronavirus community spread doesn't appear to be any closer to being under control," Mr Wyatt told reporters on Thursday

"That's really the issue here. It's not about Western Australian community spread, it's about what's happening in other states.

"What will certainly cause a much higher increase in unemployment is if we lift the borders and have a second wave of coronavirus.

"Don't assume for a minute that you lift that border and suddenly we're going to be in economic nirvana. That's simply not the case."

WA recorded a 16 per cent youth unemployment rate which the treasurer was hopeful would come down as the hospitality sector continued to reopen.

Opposition leader Liza Harvey this week accused Premier Mark McGowan of playing "cheap political games" to protect his popularity in the polls.

"He is scaring the WA public into thinking our borders must stay closed, when the advice from the federal government's expert medical panel is the complete opposite," she said.

A Tourism Council survey this month found about a third of WA businesses weren't viable without interstate tourists.