Release type: Media Release


Labour Force March 2009


The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for Social Inclusion
Deputy Prime Minister

The ABS Labour Force figures released today clearly show that the global recession is bearing down on the Australian jobs market.

According to the ABS, the unemployment rate increased from 5.2 per cent to 5.7 per cent in the month of March.

The number of people in full time work decreased by 38,900 while the number of people in part-time employment increased by 4,200 in March. The participation rate remained steady at 65.5 per cent.

Nobody likes to see job losses. Today’s figures are an inevitable consequence of the worsening global recession which is destroying jobs the world over.

Seven of Australia’s top 10 trading partners are now in recession.

The IMF and the World Bank have recently issued dramatic downgrades for the global economic outlook and Australia is clearly not immune.

The OECD is now forecasting unemployment across advanced economies will increase by around 25 million by the end of next year.

The US economy shed 663,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate has increased to 8.5 per cent - the highest in more than 25 years. More than 5 million jobs have been lost since the US recession began.

The Government has been upfront with the Australian people about the impacts of worsening global conditions on employment.

As the Treasurer has said, the worsening global recession means that unemployment here will inevitably be higher than previously forecast. Forecasts will be updated through the Budget.

Despite calls to do so, the Rudd Government has not waited to cushion the impact of the global recession on Australian jobs, we have already acted.

Rather then sit back and “wait and see” the Rudd Government has acted in anticipation of these figures, not as a consequence of them.

There are no quick fixes in the face of this global recession, but one thing we know for sure is that unemployment would be higher without this action.

The Rudd Government has announced a range of measures, including the $42 billionNation Building - Economic Stimulus Plan, to assist job seekers and redundant workers and will continue to act as necessary.

  • $650 million Jobs Fund to help support local jobs and training through community projects in regions hardest hit by the economic downturn;
  • $20.8 million Local Employment Coordinators in seven key locations to coordinate efforts to support jobs and training;
  • $4 billion in new employment services which begin on July 1 and which will have stronger links to training opportunities;
  • $300 million to ensure redundant workers receive intensive assistance and support immediately rather than having to wait up to 3 months;
  • 20,000 priority training places for people made redundant;
  • $155 million in incentives to encourage employers, Group Training Organisations and training providers to take on out-of-trade apprentices and trainees;
  • $30.2 million to expand the Australian Apprenticeship Access Program to provide at-risk jobseekers with the support undertake an apprenticeship or training; and
  • $950 Learning and Training Bonus for income assistance recipients enrolled in a structured training course.

These are difficult times for many Australians but by working together the Government is confident we will emerge from the Global Financial Crisis a stronger and even more resilient nation.