Monthly Market Review February 2024

Posted on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 by EditorNo comments

In February the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its Labour Market Update for the quarter to December 2023 which showed subtle shifts in the nation's employment landscape.  Offering insights into both national and regional trends, it reveals the implications for Central Queensland's workforce amid broader economic fluctuations.

National Employment Overview

In the final quarter of 2023, Australia saw a modest uptick in employment, with a 0.4% increase equating to 51,700 additional jobs. While this growth rate was slightly lower than the previous quarter's 0.5%, it contributed to a notable 2.8% annual increase, surpassing the decade-long average. Interestingly, both male and female employment experienced comparable growth rates during this period.

However, the composition of employment underwent a notable transformation, with a gradual shift towards part-time positions. Full-time employment saw a decline of 41,300 jobs, primarily due to a decrease in female full-time roles. Conversely, part-time employment surged by 93,100 positions, highlighting the strong demand for workers.

Implications for Central Queensland

Central Queensland, a region known for its diverse industries including mining and agriculture, mirrors national employment trends while also grappling with unique challenges. The growth of part-time roles may resonate differently in this area, where sectors like mining often rely heavily on full-time employment. Understanding this shift is crucial for policymakers and stakeholders in navigating the region's economic trajectory.

Underemployment and Spare Capacity

Accompanying the employment landscape's evolution is the rise in underemployment, reaching 6.5% by December 2023. This translates to an additional 123,300 individuals joining the underemployment ranks, signalling increased spare capacity within the labour market. For Central Queenslanders, this underscores the importance of addressing not only unemployment but also underutilisation of skills and talents.

Youth Employment Challenges

The youth labour market faces particular hurdles, with a decline in both employment and full-time roles over consecutive quarters. The youth unemployment rate surged to 9.5% by December 2023, highlighting the need for targeted interventions to support this demographic. Central Queensland, with its vibrant youth population, must prioritise initiatives to foster meaningful employment opportunities and skill development.

Long-Term Unemployment Dynamics

While long-term unemployment experienced a slight decrease, concerns linger about its trajectory amid softer labour market conditions. Central Queensland, with our diverse workforce, must remain vigilant in addressing the risk of prolonged unemployment spells, especially in sectors susceptible to economic fluctuations.

Recruitment Challenges and Regional Disparities

Data from the “Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey” released by the Federal Government, sheds light on recruitment dynamics, revealing declining rates compared to previous years. Both capital cities and regional areas grapple with recruitment difficulties, albeit to varying degrees. Central Queensland, with its unique economic profile, must confront these challenges head-on, leveraging local resources and fostering collaboration between industries and educational institutions.

Recruitment difficulty has recently fluctuated across industries, with notable changes observed over the past year. Employers in Accommodation and Food Services reported a significant decrease in recruitment difficulty, while Manufacturing continued to face challenges despite a slight decline. Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services recorded an increase in recruitment difficulty, indicating evolving workforce dynamics that Central Queensland must continue to adapt to.

Analysing employment trends by occupation offers further insights into Central Queensland's workforce composition. Despite overall growth in employment across various occupations, sectors such as Community and Personal Services experienced significant decreases in recruitment difficulty, highlighting that more job seekers have presented with the necessary skills and qualifications to meet demand in this sector. However, challenges persist, particularly in fields like Technicians and Trades Workers, where recruitment difficulty remains high.

Conclusion

As Australia navigates the evolving employment landscape, Central Queensland stands at a crucial juncture, balancing national trends with those in our region. Acknowledging shifts towards part-time employment, rising underemployment, and youth employment challenges is imperative for policymakers, businesses, and community leaders. By fostering resilience, innovation, and inclusivity, Central Queensland can navigate the complexities of the modern workforce, emerge strong and continue to thrive in the face of change.

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