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Labour Force: February 2001



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THE HON TONY ABBOTT MP

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, WORKPLACE RELATIONS AND SMALL BUSINESS

 

Media Release

2001

Labour Force - February 2001

The unemployment rate rose to 6.9 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms in February, while employment also rose marginally, by 2,500.  Full-time employment rose by 33,500, more than reversing last month’s fall.  Part-time employment fell by 31,000. 

The trend unemployment rate rose slightly to 6.8 per cent while trend employment was unchanged.

The participation rate rose slightly to 63.7 per cent, seasonally adjusted, and remains higher than its average during Labor’s term in office.  The female participation rate rose to an historically high level of 55.2 per cent. The male participation rate rose by 0.2 percentage points to 72.5 per cent.

The teenage full-time unemployment rate was 26.9 per cent in February 2001. The proportion of the teenage population looking for full-time work rose from 5.0 per cent in January to 6.1 per cent in February.

The increase in the unemployment rate evident in today’s results was disappointing, although this in large part reflected the lift in the participation rate.  Total employment in fact held up and there was a bounce back in full-time employment.

Despite its recent weakness, the economy remains reasonably placed to resume growth and support further gains in employment.

The Reserve Bank has cut interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point since the beginning of the year and the Government’s decision to reduce fuel excise will put money in the pockets of ordinary Australians.  The doubling of the first home owners’ grant should also help underpin a recovery in housing construction. 

Importantly, wages growth also remains moderate.  However, this could be seriously threatened by the ACTU’s latest $28 per week ‘living wage’ claim which is currently being considered by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The Government’s projections reveal that the claim, if granted, would cost 45,000 jobs. 

There could scarcely be a worse time for a wage claim of such magnitude.  Were it to be granted, it

would threaten the competitiveness of Australian industry and seriously jeopardise the job prospects of the low paid, the very people the ACTU purports to be helping.

 

For further information contact:

Simone Holzapfel 0417 656 668

 

 

15/03/01