Stephen Koukoulas

The recent labour market data threw up a few disconcerting facts about the economy. Since the July 2016 election, employment has fallen by 25,650 people despite growth of over 70,000 in the working age population. The Coalition government plan for 1 million jobs in 5 years is in tatters. Since the September 2013 election when the pledge was made, monthly employment growth has averaged 12,600 which extrapolated over five years means employment gains of just 757,000, some 243,000 short of the 1 million commitment. The workforce participation rate fell to 64.4 percent, the lowest since 2006. At a time when Australia needs more of the population working, participation is falling. Little wonder the budget deficit remains too high. The underemployment rate rose to a record high of 9.3 percent, meaning that almost one in 10 people who do have a job would like to work more hours. The economy is simply not growing quickly enough. In absolute terms, the data are disconcerting, and the trend is going the wrong way.


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