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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 1732

Senator COLSTON —Could the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations indicate whether the numbers of job vacancies are a forward indicator of economic activity? If they are, do the job vacancy figures issued recently indicate that the Government's economic strategy is on track? Could the Minister also indicate what effect Queensland's economic performance is having on national job vacancy figures?

Senator WALSH —It is generally acknowledged that job vacancies are a forward indicator of economic activity or a leading economic indicator as to the direction in which the economy is heading. The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures of job vacancies in Australia for February 1987 were released this week, showing that there were 62,700 job vacancies which compares with a figure of 59,000 in February the previous year. In other words, there has been a significant improvement in the availability of employment based on that indicator over Australia as a whole. In Queensland, however, the situation is very different, where the number of job vacancies in that same year fell from 8,000 to 5,700. The job vacancies fell by 2,300 or by around 30 per cent, resulting in a 30 per cent decline in the number of job vacancies in Queensland, and an increase of some 7 per cent in the number of job vacancies nationally.

It is not unusual for Queensland's economic indicators and performance to be significantly worse than for Australia as a whole, and worse than any other mainland State. Indeed, that has been the norm in recent years. To convert those job ratio figures to persons unemployed on both a national and State basis, in Australia as a whole there were just over 11 people unemployed for each job vacancy recorded. The comparable figure for Queensland was almost 24 people unemployed for each unfilled job vacancy. In other words, on that sort of assessment it is more than twice as hard to get a job in Queensland as it is in Australia as a whole. The Australian figures as a whole would be quite significantly improved if they were not being dragged down by Queensland.