Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Labour market shows further signs of strength



Download PDFDownload PDF

MEDTARELEASE

The extraordinary fall in the rate of unemployment to 8.1% in December further demonstrates the strength of the economy in general and of the labour market in particular.

Moreover, not only has the unemployment rate fallen, but there has been an increase in full time employment while the number of part-time jobs has diminished. The number of unemployed has also fallen by 25,700.

As always one must be cautious by trends shown in the figures covering only a single month. The labour force data tends to be volatile so that an improvement one month can be washed away by the data released one month later.

But while caution is required, since July there has been a steady decline in the unemployment rate which stood at 8.7% as recently as four months ago. The fall of more than half a percentage point in so short a period of time is very strong evidence that the labour market has at long last turned around.

Over the next few months there will be two further hurdles to negotiate.

The first obstacle to further labour market improvement will come from the fallout from the massive turbulence in Asia. How badly this will affect the Australian economy is still to be determined.

The latest evidence, however, suggests that Australia has a good chance to get through this turmoil relatively unscathed. There will be consequences, but they may in the end be relatively minor given the damage which is now being endured by so many of our major trading partners.

The second of the obstacles is the outcome of the “Living Wage Case” which will resume later this month in Melbourne. The ACTU is pursuing its claim for $20.60 on all award rates. It is safe to say that if this claim were granted, the current improvement in the labour market would almost immediately disappear.

For further comment: Mr Mark Paterson 02 6273 2311 (b/h)

15 January 1998

La.---------------------------------------- o-------------- b—

Statement by Mark Paterson, Chief Executive

Chief Executive 016 280 664 (pager)

g\m edia\150!98 labour force figures doc MR 2/98

L E A D I N G A U S T R A L I A N B U S I N E S S