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Thursday 16th June 2016 - 1:43 pm
Comments Off on Looking behind those unemployment figures

Looking behind those unemployment figures

by Alan Thornhill

Analysis

 

The job market figures, that were published today, don’t look too bad.

 

Indeed graphs that the Bureau of Statistics presented with its  May labour force figures appear to show things moving both strongly and in the right directions.

 

They show Australia’s unemployment rates unmistakably on  a downward path.

 

Total employment, too, is rising strongly.

 

The Bureau’s integrity, too, is beyond question.

 

So why, then, does the uncomfortable feeling, that perhaps the monthly labour force figures are no longer capturing the full picture, of Australia’s increasingly complex labour markets,  persist?

 

There are, of course, special cases, as there always will be.

 

The nation’s latest youth unemployment rate, for example, has not yet been published.

 

But it will probably turn out to be roughly double the general unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent.

 

What else, though, is actually going on out  there in the real  world?

 

One figure, that the bureau did publish today, offers a clue.

 

The bureau said Australia’s labour force underutilisation rate was steady in May, at 14.2 per cent.

 

That means, at the very least, that many workers who have lost “old” jobs, perhaps in the now abandoned car industry, are still waiting around – maybe  in part time work – until they can get better “new” jobs – making submarines.

 

But will that part time work pay their grocery bills?

 

And what do we mean by full time work, anyway?

 

There are still many  questions to be asked – and answered – about Australia’s new workplace practices.

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Friday 10th June 2016 - 4:50 pm
Comments Off on Labor budget “savings” target the rich

Labor budget “savings” target the rich

by Alan Thornhill

 
Labor has targeted tax breaks enjoyed by Australians on high incomes, in the Federal budget revisions that it announced today.

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, the Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen and Shadow Finance Minister, Tony Burke, said these would include negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions on property purchases.

They said they were advancing a budgdet repair plan “which is fair.”
But many will not agree.

 

In a joint statement the three Labor leaders said: “Labor has been announcing budget repair measures over the last two years to improve the budget and support our investments in schools and Medicare.
“Today we are announcing a $10.1 billion improvement to previously-announced budget measures, as a result of 2016-17 Budget update.
“This includes boosts to our negative gearing and capital gains reforms, and VET-FEE HELP loan caps.
“Labor’s announced savings from these measures now total $122 billion over the medium term,” they added.

 
Then they said: “Labor is today announcing a further $6.1 billion in budget improvements through measures that better target the Private Health Insurance (PHI) rebate, reduce wasteful spending and better target family payments.

 
These measures have been designed to limit the impact on the household budgets of low and middle income families.

 
They saiid the savings would include:-

 

*$3.0 billion from better targeting the PHI rebate over the medium term, by continuing the Government’s 2016-17 threshold freeze and removing the rebate from natural therapies.

 

 

*Reforming Industry Growth Centres, saving $0.5 billion over the medium term.

 

 

*Re-directing DFAT spending to other budget priorities, including the abolition of the Innovation Xchange which focussed on purchasing bean bags. This saves $0.4 billion over the medium term.

 

 

Friday 10th June 2016 - 1:23 pm
Comments Off on The cards that keep us warm

The cards that keep us warm

by Alan Thornhill

Australian shoppers sharply increased their credit card debt, as cold weather approached this year.

The Bureau of Statistics reported today that revolving personal credit commitments rose by 14.2 per cent in April, a traditional time for buying new clothes and shoes.

The bureau also noted that, overall, personal finance commitments rose by 5 per cent in the month.

But housing finance, for owner occupation, rose by just 0.1 per cent in April.

All of these figures are seasonally adjusted

There were some signs of pre-election caution, though, in the bureau’s lending finance figures for April.

Commercial finance, for example, fell by 3.3 per cent in the month.

And lease finance rose by just 0.4 per cent.

Thursday 2nd June 2016 - 1:28 pm
Comments Off on Retail sales rise – slightly

Retail sales rise – slightly

by Alan Thornhill

Australia’s retail sales rose by 0.2 per cent in April.

And our trade deficit shrank by 20 per cent during the month.

These seasonally adjusted figures were published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today.

The Bureau also said that, on similarly adjusted figures, sales in cafes, restaurants and take away food stores had all risen during the month.

We also spent more on clothing and shoes.

But we spent less on food.

Tne small rise in our spending in April followed a rise of 0.4 per cent on the same indicator in March.

The Bureau also reported yesterday that – spurred by exports – thee Australian economy grew by 3.1 per cent in the 12 months to the end of March.

Tuesday 31st May 2016 - 4:53 pm
Comments Off on Government spending:the talk

Government spending:the talk

by Alan Thornhill

Australian governments are still better at talking about spending restraint than matching their outlays to their income.

This is shown once again in March quarter figures that the Bureau of Statistics published today.

These showed that our governments – at all levels – raised $116.605 billion through tax collections in the quarter, a 2.4 per cent fall from the result seen in the final quarter of 2015.

The Bureau also reported that once general government expenses were counted the nation’s governments were left with a net operating shortfall of almost $4.6 billion, for the first quarter of this year.

So how did we cope?

Easily.

The authorities simply brought out our governments’ credit cards and borrowed another $7.6 billion.

Thursday 19th May 2016 - 4:18 pm
Comments Off on Job growth easing as more work becomes part time

Job growth easing as more work becomes part time

by Alan Thornhill

The Federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash says new figures, produced by the Statistician today, show that Australia’s job market is stable.

She also said: “… today’s data reflects a resilient Australian labour market and highlights the need to continue with the Coalition’s plan to strengthen the economy and stimulate further jobs growth.”

However Labor’s employment spokesman, Brendan O’Connor, said the bureau’s figures showed that 50,000 full time jobs had been lost, under the Turnbull government, this year.

And the bureau of statistics, itself, still has some doubts.

It said its April Labour force figures show that trend employment growth in Australia is still easing.

They had shown that trend employment had risen by just 4,100 – or 0.03 per cent – during the month.

“This monthly growth rate was below the monthly average over the past 20 years – 0.15 per cent – and down further from the recent peak of 0.26 per cent in October 2015,” the bureau said.

That left Australia with a trend unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent for the month.

Australia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April was also 5.7 per cent.

However part time employment is still surging, with 10,500 new part time jobs appearing in the month.

General Manager of ABS’ Macroeconomic Statistics Division, Bruce Hockman said this was: “.. “the eleventh consecutive monthly increase of more than 10,000 persons in part time work.

“In contrast, trend full-time employment decreased by 6,400 persons, its third consecutive monthly decrease,” he added.

Mr Hockman said this change is also reflected in the trend monthly hours worked in all jobs series.

This fell by 5.6 million hours (0.3 per cent) to 1,628.9 million hours, he said.

Wednesday 11th May 2016 - 1:59 pm
Comments Off on We’re not eating our vegies:ABS

We’re not eating our vegies:ABS

by Alan Thornhill

Australians are not eating properly, according to new data that the Bureau of Statistics published today.

In the first publication of its kind, the bureau compared what we do eat with the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines.

They recommend minimum serves for vegetables, fruit, dairy products, lean meats and alternatives, and grain-based foods.

The comparison suggests that we are getting little more than half the vegetables we need.

The Bureau’s Director of Health, Louise Gates said that adults and children over eight consumed an average of 2.7 serves of vegetables, rather than the 5 serves recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Ms Gates said this is shown by the latest results from the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.

“Less than 4 per cent of the population consumed enough vegetables and legumes or beans each day,” Ms Gates said.

Ms Gates said, too, that only “One in 10 was meeting the guidelines for dairy products, while one in seven consumed the minimum number of serves of lean meats and alternatives per day.”

“Among the five food groups, fruits and grains had the best compliance, with nearly one in three people consuming the minimum recommended number of serves for each group.’

“ However, one-third of the fruit serves was from juice and dried fruit, and two-thirds of the grains and cereals were from refined grains rather than whole grain or high fibre sources,” Ms Gates added.

The report also found that over one-third of the population’s total daily energy intake came from energy-dense, nutrient-poor ‘discretionary foods’ such as sweetened beverages, alcohol, cakes, confectionery and pastry products.

Thursday 5th May 2016 - 1:18 pm
Comments Off on Retail sales rise

Retail sales rise

by Alan Thornhill

Australians spent more on clothing and shoes as winter approached.

This is reflected in retail trade figures that the Bureau of Statistics released today.

The Statisticia’s figures showed that these purchases contributed to a 0.4 per cent rise in seasonally adjusted retail sales for March.

The Bureau also noted that, on the same basis, sales in the March quarter of this year were 0.5 per cent higher than those seen 12 months earlier.

It said, too, that the amount we spent on clothes and shoes and personal accessories, in March this year, was 0.7 per cent higher, in trend terms, than comparable sales in February.

But it noted that the amount we spent in cafes, restaurants and take away food stores had been “relatively flat” over that time.

In another key economic indicator, also published today, the Bureau reported that Australia’s trade deficit fell by $881 million – or 29 per cent – in March.

It said the value of Australia’s exports had risen by 4 per cent in the month, while imports of consumption goods had fallen by 2 per cent.

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Alan Thornhill

Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.

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