New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that 100 000 new jobs have been created in the last three months, bringing the unemployment rate down to 5.7 per cent in November from 5.8 per cent in October.
The data was positive in most states, with unemployment falling in NSW from 6.1 per cent in November to 6.0 per cent in October, and from 5.7 per cent to 5.4 per cent in Victoria. The rate also fell from 3.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent in the Northern Territory, and remained the same in Tasmania (5.4 per cent) and the ACT (3.6 per cent).
On the other hand, the rate rose from 5.3 per cent to 5.5 per cent in South Australia, from 5.0 per cent to 5.2 per cent in Western Australia, and from 6.0 to 6.1 per cent in Queensland – the highest in the country.
If the positive trend in most of the country marks the turning of the tide, then Australia may well avoid the 6.3 per cent expected unemployment peak – an estimate that was revised down from more dire previous predictions of seven and eight per cent.
Australia’s economy is considered the strongest in the developed world, having enjoyed continuing strong demand from Asia for its commodities, as well as government stimulus support and relatively low interest rates, and with less exposure to the bad US mortgage debt that precipitated the global financial crisis.
Australia’s 5.7 per cent unemployment rate is considerably better than New Zealand’s 6.5 per cent, Britain’s 7.8 per cent, America’s 10.0 per cent and Spain’s 19.3 per cent.
In fact, despite Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s prediction that unemployment would continue to rise to a peak of 6.75 per cent by June of next year, many chief executives fear that Australia could soon be heading for an acute labour shortage, particularly in the trades and resources sector.
Hays Managing Director Nigel Heap also identifies financial and commercial analysts, estimators, business development managers and technical IT specialists as professions where skill shortages are starting to appear.