Apr 7, 2003

Employment rate groth likely to slow: ANZ

EMPLOYMENT RATE GROWTH LIKELY TO SLOW: ANZ

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 7 April 2003

Australia’s unemployment rate could increase thanks to slowing employment growth, according to the ANZ Bank.

The bank said its job advertisements survey for March confirmed a continued downward trend in newspaper job advertisements that has sent them 2.5 per cent lower than in March last year.

In seasonally adjusted terms the number of job ads were up 0.4 per cent, but senior ANZ economist Melanie Hay said the average number of newspaper job advertisements in the first three months of this year were 3.1 per cent below the average for the last three months of 2002.

According to Ms Hay this “suggests an easing in the pace of employment growth is likely in the months ahead, and this could result in a modest rise in the unemployment rate”.

Acting Shadow Employment Minister Anthony Albanese said the troubled economic environment, marked by the current war in Iraq and the impact of the drought, added to uncertainty about future employment prospects.

“While the number of job ads are up there are a number of other indicators pointing to uncertain times ahead,” Mr Albanese said. “The ABS survey of job vacancies released last week confirmed the patchy nature of employment growth in Australia, with a rise in private sector job vacancies but a drop in job opportunities in the public sector.”

Added to this uncertainty is concern about the reliability of recent labour force data produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Mr Albanese said changes in the Bureau’s employment data sample had given rise to considerable caution in the interpretation of the ABS’s Labour Force figures. Ms Hay warned the changed survey sample could continue to “distort” official estimates until later in the year.

Mr Albanese said the latest job ads figures showed that the Howard Government was failing jobless Australians, particularly the long-term unemployed.

“Australians need a government that is clearly focused on the issues that effect them, like getting a decent job. Instead of fighting in Iraq the Howard Government should be doing all it can to make existing jobs secure and encourage employment growth,” he said.