Friday, July 10, 2009

A good year for some (really):

The year so far

Male employment down 56,400
Female employment up 25,800

Teenage employment down 31,000
Adult employment up 400

NSW employment down 6,200
Victorian employment down 13,200
Queensland and WA down 18,100
South Australia and NT up 11,500

Trend figures, ABS 6202.0

Women are the surprise winners from the the changes that have flowed from the global financial crisis, with the latest jobs figures showing that female employment has been climbing at a time when male employment has been sliding.

In the first six months of this year an extra 25,800 women have found jobs at a time when the number of men with jobs has slid 56,400.

And the extra jobs for women are not - as widely believed - part-time.

Trend figures produced by the Bureau of Statistics show that the number of women employed full-time has climbed 26,500 over the course of this year while the number of men employed full time has slid almost 100,000.

Asked why he thinks women should be doing well at a time when men are suffering, Melbourne Institute labour economist Mark Wooden says the male story is a "classical downturn story".

"The female story on the other hand is completely bizarre," he adds...

"The only explanation I can come up with is that the industries that are continuing to do well are those that employ women."

An examination of industry trends reveals that employment has been growing in the fields of health care, social administration and arts and recreation while shrinking in the fields of mining, manufacturing and real estate; lending weight to the Professor Wooden's suspicions.

It's not the only clear demarcation in the latest employment figures. A Herald analysis shows that of the 30,600 jobs lost so far this year, all but 400 jobs have been been lost by teenagers.

This doesn't mean that adults haven't also lost jobs in big numbers this year. As in all years, they have. But it means that almost all of the jobs lost by adults no longer in their teenage years have been replaced by new jobs offered to such adults. The young haven't been so lucky. Teenage unemployment has climbed from 13.5 per cent to 17.4 per cent.

"Employers are hoarding labour," says Commonwealth Bank economist Michael Workman. "Unfortunately it means young job seekers lose out."

Australia's unemployment rate barely changed in June, inching up a mere 0.07 points to 5.8 per cent confounding repeated forecasts that the rate is about to surge.

"If the consensus forecasts since October had been correct, by now we would have lost 118,000 jobs," said Mr Workman. "Instead we have lost 25,000. Jobs are holding up because low interest rates and massive government spending have lifted incomes and confidence."

NSW remains by far Australia's worst performing state, although Victoria is catching up to it, losing 13,200 jobs in the first half of this year, double those jobs lost in NSW.

The NSW and Victorian unemployment rates stand at 6.5 and 6.0 per cent, well above the national average, and far higher than the 5.4 and 5.1 per cent recorded in Queensland and Western Australia.

Employment Minister Julia Gillard yesterday stood by the Budget forecast that unemployment would peak at 8.5 per cent, but other analysts began to move their forecasts down.

"We're now expecting the unemployment rate to top out at just 6.5 to 7.0 per cent," said CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian. "However it's important to remember that employers are cutting hours if not jobs and that will dampen consumer spending."

Yesterday's Austrade-DHL Export Barometer lent weight to suspicions that employers are reluctant to let workers go finding that most exporters expect orders to pick up in the coming year.

Published in today's SMH and Age

Graphic: DryIcons