This year, the news pages have been dominated by redundancy announcements, which may lead one to conclude that there’s a big pool of talent out there just waiting to be hired.

But the latest unemployment figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) tell a different story. Australia’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1% in January, the lowest level since mid-2011, with total employment rising by more than 46,000 jobs to 11.4 million last month – the biggest increase in employment in more than 12 months.

Full-time employment rose 12,300 to 8.05 million and part-time work rose by almost three times that – 34,000 jobs – to 3.4 million.

So how can we reconcile this in light of the many redundancy announcements, initially in the manufacturing sector, then retailing and now banking?

It’s partly due to the fact that the number of jobs being lost is just a very small fraction of the total number of people in the labour force (11,421,300 people), but it’s also due to the amount of turnover in the labour market.

Just as quickly as jobs are going, new jobs are being created – particularly in the mining states of Western Australia and Queensland, both of which added 20,000 new jobs in January.


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