Friday, March 18, 2011

We need workers for the mines... just not that many

Mining might be powering Australia's economy, but it's employment needs are tiny.

New figures show that in the year in which 302,000 extra jobs were created the mining industry added 27,300. By contrast the biggest-employing sector, health and social assistance, piled on 91,500 extra workers; retail 49,300 and transport and postal services 34,000

Even as a proportion of workers employed the growth in mining of was eclipsed by real estate which expanded its workforce 21 per cent or 35,600 workers to mining's 16 per cent.

The detailed employment figures prepared by the Bureau of Statistics show that as hard as the mining industry is finding it to get skilled workers its needs are modest. As of last month it employed 1.7 per cent of the Australian workforce.

The needs are concentrated in just three states... All of the growth in mining jobs in the past year took place in Western Australia, Queensland and NSW. The three states between them employ 87 per cent of the mining industry, with Western Australia taking the lion's share. Curiously the mining industry also employs around 100 people in the mining-free Australian Capital Territory, possibly as lobbyists.

Health and social services overtook retail as Australia's biggest employing sector a year ago. With 1.3 million workers to retail's 1.24 million, and growing at twice the rate it will soon be incontestably Australia's biggest employer.

In third place is the construction industry with 1.19 million workers, growing at just 1 per cent per annum now that building stimulus programs are being wound down.

Manufacturing, once Australia's biggest employer, is in forth place with 995,000. Agriculture, once Australia's second-biggest employer is now a minnow with 326,000 employers having shed a further 40,000 in the past year.

Australia's smallest employer is the electricity, gas and water sector, providing jobs to 153,000 workers but growing again after cutbacks as a result of the privatisations of the late 1980s and 1990s.

Vying for the second-bottom position are mining, arts and recreation and real estate and rental, each with around 200,000 workers.

As relatively small as mining's employment needs are is is actually taking more workers than ever before. As recently as May 2009 at the low point of the economic crisis it employed just 155,000 Australians.

Published in today's SMH

Australia's biggest employers...

Health and care: 1.3 million
Retail trade: 1.24 million
Construction: 1.19 million
Manufacturing: 995,000

Australia's smallest...

Arts and recreation: 205,200
Mining and exploration: 205,100
Real Estate and rental: 201,800
Electricity, water & gas: 153,000

ABS 6291.0.55.003, February

Related Posts

. The paradox of mining

. Who'd have thought? After everything, NSW leads the way

. Could our mining executives have been having a lend of us?

6291.0.55.003 6291.0.55.001