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Aussie Jobs sets out to highlight the resilience of Australia’s labour market.
Aussie Jobs sets out to highlight the resilience of Australia’s labour market.

Labour market grows but construction still in doldrums

A new Federal Government publication highlights the resilience of Australia’s labour market, showing solid jobs growth across most industries in the last five years.
“Nothing is more important to a Labor Government than creating good jobs in fair workplaces,” said Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten.

Aussie Jobs draws together a broad range of labour market data and analysis of employment change over the last five years, as well as projected industry jobs growth out to 2016-17.

“Since the Labor Government came to office, jobs growth has been recorded across the majority of Australian industries with employment increasing by more than 837,000 over the five years to November 2012,” Shorten said.

“More than 450 jobs have been created every day since November 2007, and more Australians are in work than ever before, with employment above 11.5 million.

“The rise and rise of services is a big part of our recent jobs past and services will continue to be a huge part of our jobs future,” Shorten said.

This statistical analysis shows jobs growth in Australia has been particularly strong in some of the key service industries but it has not been strong across the board.

While the mining industry continued to record robust growth, almost doubling its workforce size over the last five years (employment increased by around 130,000), other industries such as construction have waned.

Construction slump set to continue

"Commercial and residential construction are still contracting and, with further falls in new orders reported in January, the slump looks set to continue. The impacts are being felt not only by the businesses and employees directly involved in the industry but also across the broader economy as industries in both the services and manufacturing sectors feel the pinch from the prolonged sluggishness in house, apartment and commercial building,” said Peter Burn, the director of public policy for the Australian Industry Group.

“Additional pressures on the broader construction industry are now also coming from slowing activity in the engineering construction sector as public-sector demand and mining-related activity eases.”

In Victoria, more than 12,000 construction jobs have been lost and thousands more are at risk as big infrastructure jobs such as the desalination plant finish and the pipeline of major building projects dries up.

The state's large building companies including Thiess and John Holland have already laid off more than 5000 employees as work on projects such as the M80 Ring Road Upgrade draws to a close.

The companies expect to shed thousands more jobs as the building industry grinds to a halt with the Regional Rail Link the only major infrastructure project continuing this year.

Projects on hold in Victoria

A spokeswoman for the Baillieu government said it was delivering a record $5.6 billion infrastructure program this year, which included the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer project, Melbourne Park redevelopment, Melbourne Fire Brigade Training Facility at Craigieburn and Shrine of Remembrance upgrade.

The total work delivered by big contractors for government capital projects has fallen by nearly $1.5 billion in the past two years according to government figures.

The jobs losses add to a record slump in the new housing sector that has contributed to the largest decline in construction jobs since the early 1990s.

The decline puts thousands in related fields under pressure, with suppliers of building materials such as Boral and others laying-off hundreds of engineers, surveyors, workers and contractors.

There is a call for the State and Federal Governments to fast-track funding for the next round of big ticket projects including the East-West Tunnel and Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel, which are all a year or more away from building getting started.

"It's important that we have a construction industry that is competitive, and as you know we have been seeking to ensure there is an inquiry into construction costs in this country," said Premier Baillieu.

The Council of Australian Governments last year agreed to hold the inquiry but it is yet to begin.

Aussie Jobs, Looking Back, Looking Forward is available for download.

Sources: Minister Bill Shorten, The Age, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Ai Group

CDE Global

Monday, 26 August, 2019 2:55pm
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