Bill's Media Releases

More Australians in full-time work than ever before

Labour force figures released today by the ABS show that seasonally adjusted employment expanded strongly in May, increasing by 38,900 to a record high of 11,537,900 Australians at work.

This is well above all market expectations and reaffirms that the Australian economy continues to outperform the developed world, with impressive growth, relatively low unemployment, and a record pipeline of investment at the same time as contained inflation.

Seasonally adjusted full-time employment increased by 46,100 in May 2012, to a record high of 8,107,900, partly offset by a 7,200 decline in part-time employment.

Today’s result shows that while more people are in work, more people are also looking for work than in April, with the participation rate increasing by 0.3 percentage points to 65.5 per cent.

The increase in labour force participation explained the slight increase in the unemployment rate, which ticked-up to 5.1 per cent, despite strong jobs growth in the month.

At 5.1 per cent, Australia’s unemployment rate remains one of the lowest in the developed world, and is less than half that seen in Europe and significantly below that in the US.

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, welcomed today’s positive employment result, on the back of yesterday’s strong economic growth figures, highlighting that more than 835,000 jobs had been created since the Labor Government came to office in November 2007 - a remarkable achievement given that millions of jobs have been lost worldwide over the same period.

“Australia’s strong jobs record and our low unemployment rate reaffirm the strength and resilience of the Australian people and our economy, and the success of Labor’s economic management in the face of very challenging global conditions. Australia’s strong economic fundamentals stands in stark contrast to many advanced economies which are struggling to grow at all, and face crippling unemployment levels,” the Minister said.

“While Australia has one of the strongest economies in the developed world, the Government is acutely aware that there are job losses in some sectors of our patchwork economy and that some Australian businesses and families are under significant pressure.”

“We know that conditions in our economy remain uneven, with some sectors booming, and others facing very challenging conditions from global volatility, the still high dollar and ongoing structural change.”

“To this end, the Gillard Government has recently announced the ‘Benefits of the Boom’ package which will help ease the cost of living pressures for many families, while also assisting businesses struggling in the retail, manufacturing and other sectors due to the high dollar.”

The Government has invested $9.3 billion in Job Services Australia over the next four years to provide tailored assistance to unemployed people to assist them back into employment.

“Another key challenge will be to build the nation’s wealth by boosting productivity, so that workers will have access to the job opportunities that will emerge as our labour market strengthens,” he said.

Accordingly, the Government is investing $15.6 billion in 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.

“This Government will continue with the critical reforms and hard policy choices that have made our economy and labour market the envy of the industrialised world, and will continue to get on with the job of building a stronger, sustainable and more secure domestic economy,” Minister Shorten said.