Employment growth is a fizzer

The Detailed Labour Force figures confirmed that Greater Sydney had the lowest unemployment rate in August 2016 at 4.7 per cent, while Greater Brisbane has also been trending down nicely on this measure.

In truth, though, these headline unemployment rates mask under-utilisation across most employment markets.


It’s not that hard to see why employment growth is slowing in Australia.

The Sydney jobs market, which was firing, has lost its fizz of late.


Brisbane, too, is not creating as many jobs as it was, while Perth, Hobart and Darwin are in negative territory year-on-year (as are several of the ‘rest of state’ markets, including regional Western Australia, Tassie, and the NT Outback).

Not that great.


Overall then, year-on-year employment growth has sagged to +182,500, with a high share of that work being part time in nature.


The net new jobs that have been created have been in Melbourne, regional New South Wales and Victoria, Sydney, and Brisbane.


Regional struggles

Lest you think otherwise, I don’t have any personal gripes with Townsville.

It’s merely that this data series doesn’t provide figures across that many sub-regions, and Townsville provides a useful snapshot of the trends that have played out across many resources regions.

Total employment here is 27 per cent below the 2010 peak, largely thanks to a combination of the mining downturn and a drought.pw6

There are 15,600 unemployed folks in the Townsville region, and the unemployment rate is 14.5 per cent.


Resources regions will recover eventually from the collapse in investment.

In fact, I expect the nadir in mining investment will be reached within the next 18 months.

But it will take time for the slack in Australia’s labour force to be taken up, and potentially a very long time.

Impossible to say what will happen for sure.

But if I was a punter I’d have a few bucks on the cash rate being in a range of 1 to 2 per cent for the next three years, maybe more.

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Pete Wargent


Pete Wargent is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. He’s achieved financial freedom at the age of 33 - as detailed in his book ‘Get a Financial Grip – A Simple Plan for Financial Freedom’. Pete now manages his investment portfolio, travels and works as a consultant in the finance industry from time to time. Visit his blog

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