Thursday, March 15, 2007

Extra jobs are now being created at the rate of 1,000 a week...

...most of them full-time.

What's not to like about the Australian economy at the moment?

Kenneth Davidson has some ideas.

But in the here-and-now things look better than they have ever been.

Here's my report for tomorrow's CT:

An extra 22,000 Australians found jobs last month pushing employment to yet another all-time high. The official figures released by the Bureau of Statistics yesterday suggest that almost all of the new jobs created in February were full-time.

A record 294,000 new jobs have been created over the last year.

In welcoming the news the Treasurer Peter Costello said extra jobs were now being created at the rate of 1,000 a day, all them under the new WorkChoices industrial relations system. “So, far from the new industrial relations system leading to a decline in jobs or worse conditions, it has been consistent with strong jobs growth. This industrial relations system is good for job creation, it is not adverse for job creation,” he said.

Asked whether a shortage of workers to fill the jobs would put pressure on wages, Mr Costello said: “It is a problem – but it is a good problem. Yes, there will be more pressure on wages, but it is better to have that problem than the problem of mass unemployment, people unable to get work and no pressure on wages.”

The Treasurer conceded that Australia’s official unemployment rate was likely to climb later in year after new regulations due in July forced up to 90,000 Australian parents off pensions and onto the jobs market...

“We are encouraging some people who traditionally have not looked for work to do so – people who have been on the single parents’ pension, people who have been on the Disability Support Pension. So as you get more people looking for work, because of the way these statistics are compiled, your unemployment rate could edge higher,” he said.

Australia’s unemployment rate remained broadly steady in February at 4.6 per cent, just 0.1 per cent above the three-decade low of 4.5 per cent recorded in January.

In the ACT just 6,300 people were unemployed last month, down from 7,200 in January.

The ACT shared with Western Australia the distinction of having the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 2.8 per cent.

At 6.3 per cent, Tasmania and South Australia shared the highest unemployment rate in the country.

Victoria’s rate of unemployment fell from 5.3 to 5.0 per cent, while the NSW rate climbed from 5.7 to 5.9 per cent.

The Salvation Army’s employment agency Employment Plus yesterday released the results of a survey of employers that found that despite a shortage of workers most employers remained reluctant to offer jobs to the long-term unemployed.

The survey, conducted by Roy Morgan Research, found more than 60% of businesses believed the tight labour market had not made the long-term unemployed any more attractive as employees. One third of those surveyed believed the long-term unemployed had a poor work ethic, 24% said they were potentially lazy, and 14% said they were are potentially unreliable.

The Salvation Army’s Communications Director Major Brad Halse said it was disappointing that Employment Plus had to continue to have to battle negative stereotypes that were are simply wrong.

Employment Plus had found that of those businesses which had hired one of the long-term unemployed in the last year, nine out of ten would consider doing it again.

A job-seeker is defined as long-term unemployed when out of work for more than 12 months. The number of long-term unemployed has fallen from 108,000 to 83,400 in the last year.