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Thursday, 11 October 1984
Page: 1641

Senator CHILDS —Has the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations seen the labour force figures released today? Do the figures confirm that there is a continuing recovery in the labour market?

Senator BUTTON —Clearly, all sorts of interpretations can be given to these matters, but there is probably only one interpretation which is correct, and that is the one I am about to give. In seasonally adjusted terms, during September there was a rise in employment of 27,000 and a fall in unemployment of 6,200. There was a rise in the participation rate from 60.4 per cent to 60.5 per cent and a fall in the overall unemployment rate from 8.9 per cent to 8.8 per cent. The September results now mean that 264,000 new jobs have been created since April 1983 and that the Government is well on the track towards achieving its promise of 500,000 new jobs in its first three years of government. The September quarter result has seen Australia's unemployment rate below 9 per cent for the third consecutive month and at its lowest since November 1982. The present rate of 8.8 per cent was 10.2 per cent when this Government took office. One of the most encouraging things about the figures is that youth unemployment also showed the greatest significant improvement. Unemployment among 15-year- olds to 19-year-olds looking for their first full time job fell by 8,300, or 11 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis, in September. The unemployment rate among teenagers seeking full time work fell from 25.1 per cent to 24.1 per cent, a fall of a full percentage point. The rate is now 2.9 per cent less than in April 1983.

I said yesterday in answering a question in relation to unemployment figures that, in my view, it is unwise to seek to make capital out of or to read too much into any one month's figures. The figures which are revealed for the month of September are very satisfactory to the Government but they are no cause for being satisfied, if I can put it in those terms. We have a very long way to go towards reducing unemployment to a desired level. I just make the point that there has now been a consistent pattern over the three-month period, which is encouraging to the Government and an indication that the Government's policies appear to be on the right track. Again I say that one would not seek to record those figures with great satisfaction but with some comfort.