Thursday, August 06, 2009

Making sense of today's employment figures

"There are two compelling stories in today's employment figures, each of them hard to comprehend....

I'm at

One is that there is more of us doing work and the same time less work being down. Try to get your head around it. An extra 32,200 of us found work, but even after that we got 6.5 million fewer hours of work done. If you're someone who enjoys the idea of leisure but likes the idea of staying in work, you'd probably see it as a win all round. That's close to how Julia Gillard came to describing it, as a hell of a lot better than losing jobs outright. And she's probably correct. But it does make our finances more difficult. Fewer hours at work, a forced holiday or a part-time job instead of a full-time one puts less bread on the table.

The other compelling story is that NSW, until recently derided as an economic basket case, is regaining its old mantle of the Premier State...

It accounted for an astonishing 27,700 of the 32,200 extra jobs created in July, and half of them were substantial jobs, full-time ones. And Victoria, derided as finance-heavy and manufacturing heavy produced 12,000 jobs.

By contrast in Queensland and Western Australia, the former "wonder states" things went from pretty bad to far worse. Western Austrtalia lost a further 11,800 jobs. Its unemployment rate has gone from 2.3 per cent to 5.7 in less than a year Queensland's rate has shot up from 3.3 to 5.8 per cent. It's closed the gap with Victoria.

Things are getting better in the big states, worse still in the mining states, and overall are getting worse more and more slowly. While it may not be yet time to celebrate, there's one thing for which we should be deeply grateful. Those of us who are suffering are more likely than in the past to be hanging on to jobs, however tenuously. When the good times return they're less likely to find themselves unemployed and unemployable than were the victims of previous recessions.