JOBS

One of the many buzz-words this year will be jobs.

And rightly so, because having a job and in particular a full time one, is a must when it comes to buying a dwelling and how well the housing market performs is increasingly dependent on local employment trends.

According to the latest ABS Labour Force (6202.0) release some 393,000 jobs were created (trend basis) across the country over the past year. If this is true it would be the strongest annual gain in new jobs over the past twelve. In addition the surge in jobs growth is being driven by full-time employment, with gains of 321,000 over the year.

The ABS says that the national unemployment rate is now 5.4%, with 715,000 unemployed. It was 5.7% twelve months ago.  Another 1,098,900 people are underemployed (they want more work) and this is 8.4% of the total labour force.  It was 8.6% a year ago.

The new jobs were mostly created in three states – NSW with 134,000 jobs; Qld with 109,000 jobs and Victoria with 95,000 jobs.

Some 153,600 people are unemployed in Qld (5.9%), but down from 6.2% same time last year and 8.8% or 229,300 Queensland residents (8.8%) remain underemployed.

Good news? Hmmm, I really have trouble believing these statistics and in particular Qld’s 109,000 job boost.  I do feel that something is quite amiss with our official ‘job’ statistics.

There are several reasons why. They include:

  • Roy Morgan (the best employment count if you ask me) shows that 9.8% or 1,312,000 Australian’s are unemployed and that the unemployment rate was 9.2% in December 2016! Some progress has been made in underemployment with this rate falling from 10.8% to 9.6% over the past twelve months. They say that Queensland’s current unemployment rate is 10.5% and 9.1% of those living in the Sunshine State are underemployed.
  • The latest CommSec State of the States report has Qld marked in 6th spot (out of eight obviously) and across most of the report’s eight measures of economic growth, Qld’s indicators are either flat or negative.
  • The Australian Government Department of Employment, Small Area Labour Markets Australia, statistics (another survey sample that I trust) suggests that, on a smoothed basis, just 21,500 new jobs were created across Queensland over the last twelve months, with most new jobs outside the south east corner of the state (more on this in tomorrow’s Missive).
  • The ABS defines a full-time job as one where someone works 35 hours or more per week across all jobs and not just one job. So you can be working in many casual positions, which total 35 hours or more per week, and be deemed employed full-time.
  • Importantly the current job statistics measure labour force and the number of employed, unemployed and underemployed people in the total potential workforce. It doesn’t really measure new jobs. And on that note I reckon that a lot of the ‘new jobs’ are really what I call ‘the ricochet’ – the churn in the workforce – whereby a movement in one position, sees backfilling or job changes across the board. Not really new jobs, just jockeying between gigs.  Think musical chairs, but with few new chairs being added each time.
  • And finally despite this apparent increasing tightness in the labour force, wage growth remains at all-time lows. Plus almost everyone thinks that official interest rates are on hold for the foreseeable future.

I do wonder.

Until next time,

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Michael Matusik

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