The Queensland treasurer says the federal government is playing politics with unemployment because his commonwealth counterpart Wayne Swan is in danger of losing his seat.

Tim Nicholls cited a ReachTEL telephone poll of 511 voters which showed Mr Swan, who is also deputy prime minister, was on track to lose his marginal northern Brisbane electorate of Lilley.

"When you look at some things, for example the ReachTEL poll that was widely reported yesterday, showing that the deputy prime minister and federal treasurer is struggling at 35 per cent, you understand entirely why the Labor government wants to play politics," he told reporters in Brisbane on Sunday.

The poll commissioned by union United Voice showed Mr Swan had just 38 per cent voter support, compared with 45.2 per cent for his Liberal National Party challenger Rod McGarvie, who managed a 4.77 per cent two-party swing against the federal treasurer at the 2010 election.

Mr Swan would lose his seat at the 2013 election with a 3.2 per cent swing, Australian Electoral Commission data shows.

The federal government last week held Queensland responsible for the jump in Australia's unemployment rate for December, in the aftermath of 14,000 state public service retrenchments.

The national jobless average rose to 5.4 per cent as Queensland's jobless rate increased to 6.2 per cent, giving the state Australia's second highest unemployment rate after Tasmania.

Asked about the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures on Sunday, Mr Nicholls said: "We've made no bones about the fact we think that's not acceptable."

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