Labour force figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the labour market remains strong.
Seasonally adjusted employment rose by 20 100 over the month, in line with market expectations, to reach a record high of 10 602 600 in December 2007. The trend participation rate remained at an equal record high of 65.2 per cent in December 2007.
There was a strong increase in the number of jobs for women, up by 19 700 in seasonally adjusted terms. Employment for both men and women are now at their highest levels on record.
Overall, the level of employment is now 261 300 higher than it was in December 2006, with over 80 per cent of the increase accounted for by full-time work.
The unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to stand at 4.3 per cent. The level of unemployment fell significantly over the month, down by 24 900 or 5.0 per cent.
Significantly, the unemployment rate continued to fall in Queensland, from 3.8 to 3.5 per cent and in Western Australian, from 3.4 to 3.1 per cent.
Labour markets remain tight highlighting the importance of enhancing incentives to participate in the workforce and invest in skills.
The Rudd Government has developed practical measures to lift participation, including an increase in the Child Care Tax rebate to 50 per cent to make it easier for parents to re-enter the workforce.
The Rudd Government will also increase the skill base in our economy by delivering an additional 450,000 skilled training places and as announced today, fast tracking the establishment ofSkills Australia, with 20,000 new places allocated by April this year.
By boosting skills and providing practical ways of helping people enter the workforce, we can expand the productive capacity of the economy, sustain strong employment outcomes and put downward pressure on inflation.