15 September 2008

Australia: jobless rate lowest in years but many jobs still available

The unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest position in 34 years, reports The Australian. The drop has come as a big surprise for analysts, who predicted the economy would slow down in the last quarter of 2008.

The unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 per cent in August, with Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania showing record low levels.  New South Wales is the only state in which the jobless rate increased, reaching 4.9 per cent. 

Both the Reserve Bank and the Government predicted the jobless rate would rise at the end of this year; however, the statistics show otherwise.  The number of extra people in work in August raised nearly three times more than they expected, with growth almost equal in full-time and part-time positions, despite high interest rates, high fuel prices and a global financial crisis.

The Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan said the figures are testament to the strength of the Australian economy.  "I think it's a reminder that the underlying fundamentals of the economy are strong," the Treasurer said.   "But as everybody understands, we are not immune from the fallout from global events."

The continued strong demand for Australian mineral and resource exports has meant that the Australian economy has kept its head above water during the global financial turbulence.  The current account balance narrowed to $12.8 billion in the June quarter, which represents 4.5 per cent of the March quarter GDP. 

According to Bloomberg, Australia's mining boom helped boost company profits to record levels – the most seen in more than seven years.

The Minerals Council of Australia is desperate for skilled workers to maintain the high level of mineral production and high level of industry expansion.  A recent research report funded by the council (released on the 28 May 2008) found that by 2020, employment in the minerals industry will have expanded by 70%, or 90,000 people.  To meet these workforce forecasts, the Australian Government will need to approve thousands of Australian visa applications so that overseas workers can move to Australia and work in skilled occupations. 

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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