Australian workers await jobs axe as insecurity soars
- THE AUSTRALIAN
- APRIL 25, 2015
Employees are increasingly expecting to be laid off.
The number of Australians expecting to be sacked in the next 12 months has hit a 10-year high as uncertainty about economic growth permeates the workforce.
Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data analysed by The Weekend Australian shows that a record 1.2 million Australians do not expect to be working with their current employer in a year’s time, an increase of almost 300,000 people in a decade.
Of those expecting to leave their job, 20 per cent say they fear being made redundant.
The job uncertainty revealed in the new figures — the highest level since 2004 — comes after the unemployment rate dropped to a three-month low of 6.1 per cent last month, and while the economy added almost 38,000 new jobs. The tentative signs of optimism come as the Reserve Bank warns of below-trend economic growth, weak business and consumer spending, and a continuing decline in the country’s terms of trade.
Australian Workplace Innovation and Social Research Centre director John Spoehr said the figures exposed a “classic patchwork economy”, with jobs growth strong in some sectors while others were in decline.
The demise of automotive manufacturing — which is linked to as many as 200,000 jobs — a slowing resources sector and public-service job cuts were fuelling the pessimism, Professor Spoehr said. “There is a high level of uncertainty prevailing at the moment,’’ he said.
“It is not clear where the next round of major projects will come from and there is a reluctance to compensate for this using public-sector investment. Many people are likely to be anticipating more difficult times ahead.”
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry director of employment Jenny Lambert said job insecurity highlighted the impact of business confidence on workers.
“Employees are caught up in that uncertainty, which is reflected in this quite significant increase,” she said.
She, too, cited the supply chains for manufacturing and mining, along with public-service jobs, as the sectors feeling most vulnerable. Since 2004, the number of people employed in manufacturing in Australia has fallen from 1.04 million to 911,000, and is forecast to drop to 893,000 by November 2018.
In mining, employment almost tripled from 100,000 in 2004 to 272,000 in 2013, before dropping to 229,000 last year.
While the number of people employed in public administration has grown from 598,000 in 2004 to 726,000 in November last year, about 30,000 jobs were shed in 2013-14.
Ms Lambert said the government needed to respond to the uncertainty being felt across the economy.
“They have got to again build business and economic confidence, they have got to try and paint a stronger picture about the fact that there is scope for growth in the economy,” she said.
Bill Mitchell, director of the University of Newcastle’s Centre of Full Employment and Equity, said the figures reflected a slowdown under way since 2012.
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