Why the jobs market is like baked beans on toast

Fri, 16 Feb 2018  |  

This article first appeared on the Yahoo7 Finance website at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/2447510-043200008.html 


Why the jobs market is like baked beans on toast

The January labour force data were a bit like baked beans on toast.

Not horrible, but hardly the sort of thing that is going to inspire joy and optimism about the future. The unemployment rate remains at 5.5 per cent which is significantly above most estimates of full employment for Australia and is exactly the same as it was in May 2017.

In other words, there has been no progress in reducing Australia’s stubbornly high unemployment rate since the budget 8 months ago even though the government likes to crow about the level of job creation in recent times. Despite this bluster and noisy rhetoric about job creation, the fact is the unemployment rate remains uncomfortably high and no one is doing anything about it.

Most of the recent gains in employment, which at face value has been impressive, are merely a reflection of population growth and no more. Another disconcerting aspect of the labour force data was confirmation that total hours worked by all employees in the economy fall sharply in January. This is a sure sign that the economy is not all that healthy.

Usually when economic conditions are buoyant, employees are asked to work more hours before finally the employer adds to staff numbers. In Australia’s highly flexible labour market, when times are tough, firms tend to ask their employees to work less fewer hours rather than sacking them. This is what is happening now.

Total hours worked in the Australian economy is lower in January 2018 than in May 2017 and this is despite employment rising by close to 250,000 over that time.
The average hours worked per employee fell to a record low as a result, meaning that there is still a huge amount of spare capacity in the labour market, evidenced by very high underemployment and ongoing troublesome high unemployment.

The labour force data have important implications for the Reserve Bank and interest rate settings. At its most simplest, there is now close to zero probability of an interest rate rise any time soon. The economy could not digest it, not just because of the soft labour market conditions, but because house prices are falling, wages growth is dead and inflation is below target.

The case for interest rate cuts, which was strong because of those factors, is gaining momentum not least because of the stalling in progress in reducing the unemployment rate.

Next week sees the release of wages data. If these show annual wages growth mired around 2 per cent, the rate cut bandwagon may get a few more people on board, including the RBA. It will require a major about face for the RBA to move to an easing bias, but in recent months it has shown pragmatism and flexibility when confronted with new information on the economy.

The labour force data confirm the economy needs a shot in the arm if we are to get close to full employment, let alone matching the 4 to 4.5 per cent unemployment rate many of our competitors are currently enjoying.

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How Labor lost the federal election SO badly

Thu, 07 Nov 2019

This article first appeared on the Yahoo Finance website on 20 May 2019 at this link:  https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/why-labor-lost-the-election-so-badly-211049089.html 

How Labor lost the federal election SO badly

The Coalition did not win the election, Labor lost it.

The tally since 1993 for Labor is a devastating seven losses out of nine Federal elections. By the time of the next election in 2022, Labor will have been in Opposition for 23 of the last 29 years. Miserable.

The reasons for Labor’s 2019 election loss are much more than the common analysis that Labor’s policy agenda on tax reform was a big target that voters were not willing to embrace.

Where the Labor Party also capitulated and have for some time was in a broader discussion of the economy where it failed dismally to counter the Coalition’s claims about “a strong economy”.

In what should have been political manna from heaven for Labor, the latest economic data confirmed Australia to be in a per capita recession. This devastating economic scorecard for the Coalition government was rarely if ever mentioned by Labor leader Bill Shorten and his team during the election campaign.

This was an error.

If Labor spoke of the “per capita recession” as much as the Coalition mentioned a “strong economy”, voters would have had their economic and financial uncertainties and concerns confirmed by an elevated debate on the economy based on facts.

This parlous economic position could have been cited by Labor for its reform agenda.

Why animals are a crucial part of the Australian economy

Thu, 07 Nov 2019

This article was written on 31 October 2019: It was on the Yahoo Finance website at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/animals-crucial-australian-economy-192927904.html 


Why animals are a crucial part of the Australian economy

Animals are a critical part of the Australian economy, either for food, companionship or entertainment.

But every month, millions of sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens, fish and other animals are bred and then killed. Most of them are killed in what we define as ‘humane’, but no doubt tens of thousands are horribly mistreated, as are a proportion of the animals we keep as pets.

Animals are slaughtered to provide food for human food consumption, to feed other animals (your cats and dogs are carnivorous) and for fertiliser.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics collects a range of data on animal slaughterings and the most recent release of the Livestock and Meat data release included the following facts.