Australian workers have reasons to be cheerful, as new research reveals that they have come through the worst of the GFC unscathed compared with the rest of the world.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) annual report into global unemployment shows that 17 million jobs must be created to get employment levels back to where they were before the crisis.
It adds that unemployment may have peaked in the OECD area, having reached 8.6 per cent in May 2010.
But the Australian unemployment rate, currently at 5.2 per cent, is one of the lowest in the OECD area.
Moreover, the employment-to-working-age population ratio in Australia should be back to its pre-crisis level by the end of 2011.
Young Australians are also faring better than their counterparts in most other OECD countries.
The youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate was 11.6 per cent in 2009 compared with 16.4 per cent on average in OECD countries.
However, despite having a lower-than-average unemployment rate, overall slack in the labour market is actually higher that the OECD average.
This includes a large pool of under-employed workers – comprising full-time workers who have been asked to work part-time during the downturn and so-called “involuntary” part-timers who could not find a full-time job – as well as many people who have given up looking for work.
OECD secretary-general Angel Gurría, said: “Creating jobs has to be a top priority for governments. Cutting unemployment and fiscal deficits at the same time is a daunting challenge but it needs to be tackled head on. Despite signs of recovery in most countries, the risk remains that millions of people may lose touch with the labour market. High joblessness as the new normal can not be accepted and has to be tackled by a comprehensive policy strategy.”