Leading Australian economists have forecasted the unemployment rate will rise to 5.25 (up from 5.2% in October), reflecting the uncertainty felt about the world economy by Australian employers.
National Australia Bank (NAB) chief economist Robert Henderson told AAP that employers appeared reluctant to employ staff, as indicated by the figures that showed little growth.
Henderson commented: “We're getting close to the point where the job growth is not enough to stop unemployment rising,” and added “The labour market hasn't fallen off a cliff but it has definitely softened.”
Indeed, the median market figures for October revealed 10,000 new jobs were created with a participation rate of 65.6% - and this is not enough to sustain growth.
“It's not that there is widespread job shedding it's just that I think employers have been more careful about their hiring and maybe delaying some hiring,” Henderson said
Macquarie senior economist Brian Redican also said he expected a fall in employment numbers.
“In the last few months, we have seen more and more firms announce staff reductions and that seems to be intensifying,” he said.
Redican also noted that there are obvious areas such as manufacturing and tourism which have seen an increase in job losses, but the trend has also begun spreading to other areas including finance, professional services, and even to government employment.
Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk said he would be paying extra attention to any falls in male full-time employment, because this would be indicative of the mining sector employing fewer workers than expected.
He noted that male full-time employment has been weak in 2011, and this coincides with a weakness in construction and manufacturing.
“It suggests that the benefits of the mining boom are perhaps not spreading as widely as people think they are,” Smirk warned.
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