The most recent news [March 2014 for February] regarding the uptick in Australian Labour Force statistics was [and is] well received.
The seasonally adjusted estimates showed that employment increased 47,300 to 11,530,800. Full-time employment increased 80,500 to 8,049,900 and part-time employment decreased 33,300 to 3,480,900.
As with any labour-market interpretation, I am sure Hermann Rorschach would find us all worthy subjects.
Concurrent assessments of the monthly trends for unemployment shows that the unemployment rate increased 0.1 pts to 6.0%. The participation rate remained steady at 64.7% from a revised January 2014 estimate.
The aggregate monthly hours worked increased 2.1 million hours (0.1%) to 1,610.8 million hours.
Those working in communities outside the largest and most diverse labour-markets will understand the nuance in the reality of these figures. Yes, the increase overall is a positive step forward for the country, however the progress is never even and the inherent structural biases against the young appear more apparent to this author.
The largest increases in seasonally adjusted employment were in Queensland (up 30,700 persons) and in New South Wales (up 13,900 persons). The largest decrease in seasonally adjusted employment was in Victoria, down 5,300 persons.
When planners, policy-makers and strategists work to effect change and reform, the pace, scope and depth of change within “traditional” markets is a genuine strategic challenge. We so very often hear about the challenge of the “pace-of-change”, but these are the figures that draw these challenges in to stark relief.
It is very easy to consider planning based on historical knowledge and years of experience. This often serves us well, but when we do not have the metrics or the processes to easily measure or recognise change in our communities and their economies [however they are defined], then often the best we can expect is “valiant failure” of programmes and policies that are based on ill-informed or [worse] incorrect premises.
There are now more workers aged over 55 than under 24
This should give all those that work in local communities, education and training organisations and government, a moments pause. Of course there is no “fixed” or “specific-target” condition that we are striving for, these are dynamic and organic conditions. The externalities present in globalised and open markets present such challenges. All we can do is to ensure we clearly understand the CURRENT conditions and are able to assess our responses, programmes, policies and budgets in as timely and accurate way as possible. This is a true challenge.
Where is the base of our next pyramid?
An amateur geographer, anyone with even a passing interest in labour-markets or demographics will understand the population pyramids and the significance of their shapes! The Australian suggests High rate of youth unemployment will hurt future productivity.
Greg Jericho writes weekly for “The Drum” [ABC] and has created some excellent graphic examples of the challenges for young Australians.
- Participation rate of the older workers continued to grow, the participation rate of those workers in the “prime earning age” of 25 to 54 flat lined – not a good thing when that group makes up two-thirds of all workers.
- The biggest change was among the younger workers. People under 24 deserted the labour force. In February 2008, 71 per cent of those aged 15-24 were either employed or looking for work; now it is just 66 per cent.
- In 2008, there were about 310,000 more people employed who were aged 15-24 than were those aged over 55. Now there are nearly 200,000 more workers aged over 55 than there are those under 24.
- It is a massive change and is reflected in the employment to population levels. During the boom years, the percentage of those under 24 in work rose at the same rate as did the percentage of those in the prime working age.
The demographic challenges continue.
The need for more precise tools to measure, monitor and ultimately “understand” what is happening within and around our communities has never been more apparent.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics
- Article – Australia needs it Young Workers back
- Labour Force Commentary – February 2014
- Youth unemployment at crisis point, according to Brotherhood of St Laurence analysis
- Youth Unemployment Rate – Forecasts – Trading Economics
- High Rate of Youth Unemployment will hurt Future Productivity – The Australian