Australian workforce numbers decreasing

Despite a rise in total employment, which rose to 11,145,000 in the year to February, Roy Morgan’s latest employment estimates reveal a decrease in Australia’s overall workforce.

The number of Australians in the workforce hit 12,526,000, a drop of 139,000 over the past year. The decrease in workforce numbers was largely attributed to those who simply “gave up” and left the workforce. 1,381,000 Australians are looking for work – 180,000 under the number registered in February 2014.

Roy Morgan Research Executive Chairman Gary Morgan said the results highlight the lack of action from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which last week decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.25 per cent.

“The RBA’s failure to act to provide stimulus to the Australian economy and the soft Australian labour market suggests the RBA still doesn’t understand the weakness in the Australian economy that is likely to see the economy continue to slow down during 2015. It is imperative that RBA Governor Glenn Stevens renews a rate cutting campaign as soon as possible,” Mr Morgan said.

“The RBA’s inaction is a ‘slap in the face’ to the many Australians that are looking for work.”

The latest numbers reveal that 1,161,000 are underemployed, which pushes the number of Australians looking for work or more work to 2.54 million (20.3 per cent). This is the 39th straight month that over 2 million Australians have been either looking for work or more work.

“The Coalition Government, which this month reaches the half-way point of its first term in office, trails badly behind the Opposition according to last week’s Morgan Poll: ALP 56% cf. L-NP 44%. To stand any chance of re-election next year the Government must look seriously at comprehensive industrial relations reform in this year’s Federal Budget – a first measure should be the abolition of weekend and public holiday penalty rates,” Mr Morgan said.

“If Prime Minister Tony Abbott had seriously tackled the high levels of unemployment and under-employment in Australia during his first 18 months in office he would be receiving a much greater degree of support from his colleagues and the Australian community than he is during the current leadership speculation.”

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