In early October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics issued a statement showing unemployment had fallen from 5.3% to 5.0%. The net increase in employment during September was 5,600 jobs, with strong growth in full-time employment (20,300 people gaining new positions) but a decline in part-time positions. This is the lowest level for unemployment in Australia for seven years.
While, the participation rate did decline marginally from to 65.4% from 65.7%, it is still close to its highest level on record. The participation rate is a measure of the active portion of Australia’s labour force (number of people who are actively looking for work).
However, when thinking about unemployment in Australia it is important to remember that the employed workforce is estimated at just 12.6 million people and there are some 670,000 persons unemployed. But what sort of work are these 670,000 people looking for ? Interestingly, during September, the number of unemployed persons looking for full-time work decreased 38,000 to 449,700 and the number of unemployed persons only looking for part-time work increased 900 to 216,100.
Fascinating but what does it all mean ? Basically, it means that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find that ‘right’ person for your business. The economy has been chugging along steadily, employment has grown strongly and the participation rate is high, so there is decreasing spare capacity in the Australian labour market. During the past few years, key sectors where employment growth has been rapid are health, construction, manufacturing, professional, scientific and technical services. In these sectors, spare capacity has largely been eliminated and wages growth is beginning to break out. So if you are looking to grow your business in the next 2-3 years, the time to start looking for new employees is now !
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