Release type: Transcript


Doorstop - labour force figures, job advertisement figures, China


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business


Subject/s:  ABS labour force figures, job advertisement figures, China

MINISTER CASH: Good morning and as we move towards Christmas next Wednesday, the Government welcomes the labour force figures for November 2019 and, in particular, the fact that yet again we have a record number of Australians in employment. Almost 13 million Australians are now in employment and I'd like to thank all of those hardworking employers out there, in particular, small and family businesses who are out there doing the hard yards and creating these jobs for Australians. The labour force figures for November show that the unemployment rate in Australia has dropped from 5.3 per cent to 5.2 per cent.

What it shows is that in the month of November, employers created for the Australian people almost 40,000 jobs and, as I said, we now have a record number of Australians in employment, almost 13 million. Over the last 12 month period, we have seen employment in Australia increase by almost 255,000 and the good news for Australians is that almost 57 per cent of those jobs created were full time jobs. Employment growth in Australia continues to be above the decade average of 1.8 per cent and I'm really pleased that the participation rate in Australia remains very, very strong at 66 per cent.

What this says is that the Australian people are out there, they're putting up their hands and saying, ‘I want to participate in the jobs market and I have faith in the jobs market.’ The Government is also pleased that the youth unemployment rate for November dropped by almost 1 percentage point, down to 11.5 per cent, but as I've always said, you don't ever rest on your laurels as a government and we are certainly out there putting in place the policies to get more youth off welfare and in to work.

But certainly for the month of November, as we head towards Christmas next Wednesday, the Government welcomes the drop in the unemployment rate down to 5.2 per cent. The fact that in November, employers out there created for Australians almost 40,000 additional jobs and we now have almost 13 million Australians in employment and that is a record high. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Those jobs, 90 per cent of them were part time. That's pretty disappointing, isn't it?

MINISTER CASH: No, not at all. Part-time employment is a valuable form of employment and in particular for so many Australian who are studying, in particular women who want to return to the workforce but also want to be able to care for their children. So, I would never ever demean part-time employment in Australia.

But if you look at the last 12 months, what you have seen is almost 57 per cent of the jobs created by employers are actually full-time jobs. That is a good thing but you actually want a mix of employment in Australia to cater for the differing demands of individuals but in terms of full time employment growth, almost 57 per cent of the jobs created in the last 12 months have actually been full time jobs.

JOURNALIST: The underemployment rate is close to 8.5 per cent, that's relatively unchanged; how much of a concern is that?

MINISTER CASH: The underemployment rate for November actually dropped, as you would be aware. And, again, when you look at the underemployment rate, the ABS figures themselves actually show that around 75 per cent of people are actually very comfortable with the hours that they are working. This is all about acknowledging the different types of employment that we have in Australia. Part-time employment is valuable employment. Around 75 per cent of people who are in part-time employment actually don't want to work any more hours or they don't have the capability to work any more hours because they're in study, they're caring for their children.

But again, what I would say is the underemployment rate has actually dropped which is a good thing but also when you look at the last 12 months again, you know, the majority of the jobs over 50 per cent heading towards 57 per cent of the jobs created by employers because it's the employers out there who are doing the hard yards, who are creating those jobs for Australians have been full-time jobs. It's a good mix in the economy.

JOURNALIST: Why hasn't the Government been able to bring that underemployment rate down further than that?

MINISTER CASH: Well, again, the underemployment rate has dropped in November but it is also an acknowledgment of the different types of employment in the economy and the fact that the ABS figures themselves show that 75 per cent of people who are working part-time do not actually want more hours.

But, again, I have never stood here and said that we rest on our laurels. You never ever rest on your laurels as a government. We welcome the fact that we have record employment in Australia of almost 13 million people. That is a record high in Australia. The first time it has happened, almost 13 million people in Australia are in employment. But we as a Government, we welcome all forms of employment because people have different requirements in the labour market, whether it be full-time work, part-time work or casual work and I will never demean any type of employment.

JOURNALIST: We saw job advertisements fall this morning; how much of a concern is that as a leading indicator for next year?

MINISTER CASH: Well, again, you're looking at a particular type of job advertisement. When you actually look at how jobs are advertised in 2019 as we look forward, it's a very, very different jobs market. Small businesses in particular, they don't utilise etc. They'll often have a little sideboard as you walk in, a little blackboard that says, you know, “Help wanted” We also find now that so many employers out there, in particular for the younger people, they're actually advertising on Facebook and the different forms of, technology that can now be utilised.

So, again, if you actually look at the job figures though; 40,000 jobs, almost, created in November record employment in Australia, very, very, very strong participation. Almost 57 per cent of the jobs created in the last 12 months have been full-time jobs. We are now heading towards 1.5 million jobs being created since we were elected to office in 2013. That is a good track record.

JOURNALIST: You're saying the Seek data excludes small business; what does that data then say about the health of corporate Australia in business? I mean, there's an 8.4 per cent drop in job ads for the month.

MINISTER CASH: What it basically says is there are other ways of actually advertising for jobs. That's what it now says. I mean, if I go around talking to small business in particular and I ask them, “How do you actually go about recruiting staff?”  They will actually say, “Word of mouth. I knew John down the road needed a job so I gave him a call”. A lot of it is also, online, literally on the mobile phone that we all hold now, but also Facebook et cetera or when you walk in there's the blackboard and it says, you know, "Help wanted”.

That is the reality of the economy now and the way we do things is not necessarily reflected in that data. Again, when you also have 40,000 jobs being created in the month of November, you have record employment in Australia, I think those figures actually show there is now some discrepancy just in the way employers are advertising.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask on a separate issue?

MINISTER CASH: Separate issue, yes.

JOURNALIST: The Chinese ambassador held a rare media briefing in Canberra today.


JOURNALIST: He pushed back on some of the human rights concerns Australia had and even described the imprisonment of Muslims as fake news; does the Government think its fake news?

MINISTER CASH: I think both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, have made Australia's position very clear. We believe that the reports are credible. Both the Prime Minister, I understand, and the Foreign Minister, have expressed Australia's concerns, both directly to China and publicly. We remain clear in our position that China must act consistent with its human rights obligations and it should end the detention of the Uighurs.

JOURNALIST: Is the Government pushing for a meeting with the President?

MINISTER CASH: Well, again, I think the Prime Minister has met with both the Premier and the Vice President. I think the Foreign Minister has met with her counterparts, the Defence Minister, I understand, and the Trade Minister; so certainly we have a very, very good relationship with China.

Our leadership team are out there meeting with their counterparts but I think the Prime Minister has said he's not going to wait by the phone - that is not his job to do that. He would welcome an invitation but certainly we already have a very good, you know, strong relationship with China and we certainly have talked at high levels.

Thank you all very much. Have a lovely Christmas.