11 January 2007
Australia nearing full employment
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has said the country is nearing full employment after a record 302,000 jobs were created in 2006.
Mr Howard's triumphant remarks follow the latest labour market data that reveal 44,600 people found jobs in December following a similar increase the previous month, taking the total Australian workforce to 10.3 million.
Australia's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.6 per cent, a 30-year low and one of the lowest in the developed world, and analysts are predicting it will fall further in 2007 with many of Australia's 500,000 unemployed expected to be added to the labour force.
“I think the jobs figures today are wonderful,” Mr Howard was reported as having said in Sydney today.
“I have spent 10 years as prime minister of Australia trying to achieve a situation where every Australian who wants a job can get one.
“We are getting to that situation, not everyone, but we are getting to that situation.
“There's no greater indicator of economic success than low unemployment. We now have the best labour market in this country in my lifetime - the best.
“This is something to be pleased about. If it's not about providing jobs for Australians and thereby security and stability for Australian families, then what is economic policy all about?
“This is far more important than anything else and it's a wonderful mark of the success of economic policy over the last decade."
There are concerns that the job figures will force the Australian Reserve Bank to raise interest rates with a tighter supply of workers pushing wages up.
The Government's immigration policies are geared towards bringing more skilled workers in to Australia to help maintain growth in the economy and alleviate critical skills shortages in some industries.
A shortage of skilled workers, particularly in healthcare and trades, remains a major concern for Australia and the Government has raised its skilled immigration intake to the highest levels since 1930.