Labour Minister calls for 'stronger wage growth and job security' amid new survey

Government says 'better deals' for workers hasn't happened yet

Labour Minister calls for 'stronger wage growth and job security' amid new survey

Now is the time to shift to more substantial wage growth and increased job security, Tony Burke, minister for employment and workplace relations, said in a media release following the new labor force figures.

Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey revealed a “continued disconnect” between the unemployment rate and working conditions.

Key statistics of the survey

Based on the ABS’s official website, the May 2022 Labour Force Survey showed:

  • The unemployment rate remained at 3.9% from April to May 2022
  • The participation rate, or the rate of the economy’s active workforce, increased to 66.7% as stronger labour market conditions encouraged more people to enter the labour force
  • The employment rose for seven consecutive months and is now at 508,600 (or 3.9%) higher than the level recorded in March 2020 when Australia recorded its 100th case of COVID-19)
  •  The employment to population ratio increased from 63.8% in April 2022 to 64.1% in May 2022.
  • The underemployment rate decreased to 5.7%, the lowest rate recorded since August 2008, immediately before the Global Financial Crisis
  • Full-time employment increased by 0.7% over the month, amounting to a record high of 9,443,400
  • Part-time employment decreased by 0.2%  and was 1.6% below the level recorded in March 2020
  • Labor market conditions for young people improved, with youth employment increasing by 1.1%, now at record high 2,022,800. Meanwhile, the youth employment rate was steady at 8.8%

             According to Burke, these figures emphasize the power and resilience of the Australian labour market. However, the latest ABS Wage Price Index (WPI) data for the quarter of March 2022 showed only a 2.4% growth in wages over the year.

Call for better work conditions

 Burke said that the Albanese Labor Government is already taking action to improve job security and increase wages among workers.

“For years, we’ve been told that lower unemployment would automatically lead to wages growth and a better deal for workers,” Burke said in a media release. “That hasn’t happened.”

Recently, the Fair Work Commission raised the National Minimum Wage (NMW) by 5.2%, amounting to $40 a week, and modern award minimum wages by 4.6%, subject to a minimum increase of $40 per week.

Burke said that the Labor Government’s submission to the FWC’s annual wage review was just the first step toward enhancing job security and improving wages for workers.

“Labor’s plan includes making job security an object of the Fair Work Act, getting a better deal for gig workers, stopping the labour hire rorts that are undermining wages, making wage theft a crime, limiting the use of fixed-term contracts and ensuring a better deal for women,” he said.

Furthermore, Burke also said that amidst all the backdrop, the Government’s Secure Australian Jobs Plan would deliver more secure jobs, better pay, and a fairer industrial relations system.

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