Male unemployment 4.7%
Male full-time unemployment 4.4%
Adult employment up 364,000 in 2010
Female unemployment 5.3%
Female full-time unemployment 6.3%
Teenage employment down 2600 in 2010
Australia's unemployment rate has a '4' in front of it for the first time since the economic crisis took hold.
The new rate of 4.98 per cent is rounded to 5.0 per cent in official publications, itself a 23-month low. The further gains expected in the coming year are likely to push unemployment well into the middle of the 4 to 5 per cent band it occupied during the previous mining boom.
Employment Minister Chris Evans said rebuilding after the Queensland floods would boost jobs further, especially in Queensland and northern NSW.
"Look there’s no doubt there will be huge immediate impacts on employment as a result of the floods. My department is working with Centrelink to provide disaster recovery payments that will provide income support."
"But longer term, clearly there is going to be growth in work associated with the recovery," Senator Evans told reporters in Perth. "We have seen previously after the Victoria bushfires and the ACT bushfires a demand for a lot of construction work and that rebuilding process will no doubt generate jobs."
Male full-time employment dominated job creation in the year to December with 207,000 of Australia's 364,000 new jobs going to men working full-time... Male full-time unemployment has slipped to a long-term low of 4.4 per cent. Female full-time unemployment reamains stubbornly high 6.4 per cent, no lower than a year earlier.
The new jobs are also overwhelmingly going to adult rather than young workers. Teenage employment fell throughout 2010 meaning that in aggregate none of the jobs created during 2010 boosted the prospects of Australians aged 15 to 19.
"This could be why consumer spending has failed to lift while employment has soared, said CommSec analyst Savanth Sebastian. "Older workers have grabbed the bulk of new jobs as opposed to those in their 20s and 30s more likely to spend."
Victoria and NSW have joined Western Australia with unemployment rates below 5 per cent at 4.9 and 4.6 per cent.
The Queensland, Tasmanian and South Australian rates remain stubbornly above 5 per cent with Queensland's wet weather in December believed to cost it jobs in hospitality.
The Bureau of Statistics will continue to count people as employed where they are unable to work because of the floods including in circumstances where mines are flooded.
Although total employment growth was a weak 2300 in December, the three-month rolling total of 91,300 is one of the best on record, meaning about 1000 jobs were created each day.
"The key message is that the labour market is tight and, in my view, set to get tighter," said HSBC economist Paul Bloxham. "The Goldilocks story of employment growth being matched by increased participation in the labour market is turning out to be too good to be true."
"While the Queensland floods present a short term downside risk to activity, in the medium-term the reconstruction efforts and expenditure on replacing durable goods will boost the economy. This boost will occur at a time when the economy is already operating at near-capacity and the labour market is already very tight."
"Indeed, the unemployment rate for those skilled in construction and mining is likely to already be very low. The likely result is further upside risk to inflation with an increase in interest rates likely mid-year."
Published in today's SMH and Age
Unemployment is losing its sting. The latest job vacancy survey shows more jobs on offer than ever before.
The Bureau of Statistics found 194,000 jobs unfilled in November, well up on 151,000 the year before.
With 575,000 Australians looking for work, the finding means there are now only 3 unemployed for each vacant job.
A year earlier there were four.
The ratio of job seekers to vacant jobs is the best since the peak of the previous mining boom in May 2008.
It's not too far off the all-time best ratio of 2.5 unemployed chasing each vacant job.
But it depends on where you live. In the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory the Bureau finds there are actually more vacant jobs than people identifying as unemployed wanting to fill them.
In Western Australia there are fewer than 2 unemployed for each vacancy.
By far the hardest state in which to find work is Tasmania. There between 5 and 6 unemployed fight it out for each vacant job, down from 7 unemployed per job a year before.
In NSW, the toughest employment market on the mainland, the ratio is 3.7, down from 4.5. In Victoria it is 3.2, down from around four.
The jobs on offer are overwhelmingly in the retail, accommodation and food service industries, which between them want 38,000 workers compared to mining industry's 7700. But mining industry vacancies have more than doubled in the past year, climbing from 4100.
The ABS figures are more reliable and representative than private counts of job advertisements because they include vacancies that are not advertised.
Economists expect the December employment figures due out Thursday to show an extra 40,000 Australians found work, nudging the unemployed total down further.
Separately-released figures showed home loan approvals for owner-occupiers climbed for the fifth consecutive month in November as confidence about employment grew. Borrowing by real estate investors fell to be down 6 per cent over the year.
Fixed rate loans accounted for 8 per cent of all new mortgages, the highest proportion in more than two years amid concern about rising interest rates. Non-bank borrowing grew sharply after outsized November rate hikes by each of the big banks.
Banks' share of new lending slid from 89 to 87 per cent after sliding from 91 per cent six months ago.
WHERE IT'S BEST TO LOOK
Unemployed per vacancy
Northern Territory 0.9
Australian Capital Territory 1.0
Western Australia 1.7
South Australia 2.7
ABS 6354.0, November 2010
Published in the SMH and Age Thursday January 13
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