Labour force figures released today by the ABS show that Australia's unemployment rate declined from 5.1 per cent as reported last month to 4.9 per cent in April 2012, remaining one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the industrialised world and less than half that of the Euro area.
The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, welcomed today's result, highlighting that around 800,000 jobs had been created since the Labor Government came to office in November 2007. This is in stark contrast with the disappearance of around 27 million jobs in the rest of the world. Since the beginning of the year, the Australian economy has created around 87,000 jobs.
Today's result is yet another example of Australia's strong economic performance.
Seasonally adjusted employment rose by 15,500 in April (exceeding all market expectations) to a record high of 11,501,000. Part-time employment increased by 26,000 in April 2012, partly offset by full-time employment which fell by 10,500 in the month. Since the start of the year, the Australian economy has created almost 90,000 jobs.
The number of people looking for work decreased by 28,800 in April to its lowest level for 12 months. The labour force participation rate declined slightly, by 0.1 percentage points, to 65.2 per cent.
"While recognising the headline rate can go up and down each month, this result is nonetheless a testament to the success of Labor's economic management in the face of headwinds from ongoing global uncertainty, the high dollar and structural transitions facing many sectors," the Minister stated.
Importantly, latest Budget forecasts show that Australia's economic growth is expected to outpace every single major advanced economy over the coming two years, while the unemployment rate is forecast to remain low.
Despite our strong economic position relative to the rest of the world, the Government is acutely aware that some Australian businesses and families are under pressure in our patchwork economy. The Government's recently announced 'Benefits of the Boom' package will help ease the cost of living pressures for many families, while also assisting businesses not in the fast lane of the economy such as retail.
According to Minister Shorten, another key challenge will be to "build the nation's human capital to help boost productivity, so that workers will have access to the job opportunities that will emerge as our economy and labour market strengthen."
To this end, the Government is investing $15.6 billion in skills and the vocational education and training sector over the next four years as well as $3 billion over six years for the Building Australia's Future Workforce initiative (BAFW), one of the largest training and workforce participation packages ever, to ensure that Australians have the skills they need for the job opportunities that will emerge in the new economy.
"It's a shame the Opposition, mired in their negativity, have not seen fit to welcome the headline figure of 4.9%."
"In a haystack of good news they will always go looking for a needle of negativity."
"If a record number of Australians being in a job is not something they welcome, it just shows how little regard they have for the working lives of real Australians."