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Australian employment increased to over 14.1 million for the first time in December, but under-employment hit a record high of 1.65 million

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Under-employment

Australian employment increased to over 14.1 million for the first time in December, but under-employment hit a record high of 1.65 million

 

In December 2023 Australian employment hit a record high of over 14.1 million for the first time with over 9.2 million now employed full-time and over 4.9 million employed part-time.

However, despite surging employment – up by 607,000 compared to a year ago – a massive 3.02 million Australians (19.4% of the workforce) were unemployed or under-employed in December.

‘Real’ unemployment was down 0.9% to 8.8% – an estimated 1,364,000 Australians (down 141,000) in December. There were fewer people looking for full-time jobs (down 90,000 to 536,000) and part-time jobs (down 51,000 to 828,000) compared to a month ago. In addition, there were a further 1,651,000 Australians (up 119,000) now under-employed.

The December Roy Morgan Unemployment estimates were obtained by surveying an Australia-wide cross section of people aged 14+. A person is classified as unemployed if they are looking for work, no matter when. The ‘real’ unemployment rate is presented as a percentage of the workforce (employed & unemployed).

  • Employment increased to a new record high in December with record high full-time employment:
    Australian employment increased by 165,000 to a new record high of 14,175,000 in December. The increase was due to a rise in full-time employment, up 234,000 to a new record high of 9,242,000 while part-time employment was down 69,000 to 4,933,000.
  • Unemployment was down in December with fewer people looking for part-time or full-time work:
    In December 1,364,000 Australians were unemployed (8.8% of the workforce), a decrease of 141,000 from November. There were 828,000 (down 51,000) looking for part-time work and 536,000 (down 90,000) now looking for full-time work.
  • The workforce increased by almost 600,000 from a year ago to a record high over 15.5 million people:
    The workforce in December was 15,539,000 (up 24,000 from November, and up a massive 587,000 from a year ago) – comprised of 14,175,000 employed Australians (up 165,000 from a month ago) and 1,364,000 unemployed Australians looking for work (down 141,000).
  • Overall unemployment and under-employment down 0.2% points in December to 19.4%:
    In addition to the unemployed, a further 1.65 million Australians (8.8% of the workforce) were under-employed, i.e. working part-time but looking for more work, up 119,000 from November. In total 3.02 million Australians (19.4% of the workforce) were either unemployed or under-employed in December.

Compared to early March 2020, before the nation-wide lockdown, in December 2023 there were over 850,000 more Australians either unemployed or under-employed (+3.8% points) even though overall employment (14,175,000) is over 1.3 million higher than it was pre-COVID-19 (12,872,000).

 

ABS Comparison

Roy Morgan’s unemployment figure of 8.8% is more than double the ABS estimate of 3.9% for November but is comparable with the combined ABS unemployment and under-employment figure of 10.4%.

The latest monthly figures from the ABS indicate that the people working fewer hours in November 2023 due to illness, injury or sick leave was 526,000. This is around 134,000 higher than the pre-pandemic average of the six years to November 2019 (391,800) – a difference of 134,200.

If this higher than pre-pandemic average of workers (134,200) is added to the combined ABS unemployment and under-employment figure of 1,543,400 we find a total of 1,677,200 people could be considered unemployed or under-employed, equivalent to 11.3% of the workforce.

Roy Morgan Unemployment & Under-employment (2019-2023)

Roy Morgan Unemployment & Under-employment (2019-2023)

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source January 2019 – December 2023. Average monthly interviews 5,000.
Note: Roy Morgan unemployment estimates are actual data while the ABS estimates are seasonally adjusted.

 

Michele Levine

CEO Roy Morgan, says Australian employment continued to grow in December with a record high of over 14.1 million now employed, up 607,000 from a year ago, but there are still over 3 million Australians unemployed or under-employed – 19.4% of the workforce:

“The latest Roy Morgan employment estimates for December show the Australian workforce and people employed continue to grow strongly. The Australian workforce hit a new record high over 15.5 million, over 14.1 million Australians were employed for the first time and over 9.2 million Australians are now in full-time employment – also a new record high.

“There are also over 3 million Australians either unemployed or under-employed for the fifth time in 2023. The latest estimates show 1,364,000 Australians were unemployed (8.8% of the workforce) and a further 1,651,000 were under-employed (10.6%) in December.

“As we have stated all year a big reason for these record highs, and continuing high unemployment and under-employment, is the large growth in the size of the Australian population over the last year. The increases are driven by a record high annual population increase of 831,000 during 2023.

“This level of increase is almost three times larger than the long-term average over the last 25 years during which the Australian population increased on an annual basis by an average of 280,000.

“The rapidly growing population has led to increases in employment metrics across the board. The Australian workforce has increased by almost 600,000 from a year ago to 15,539,000 and overall employment is up 607,000 to 14,175,000. The employed consists of full-time employment at 9,242,000 and part-time employment of 4,933,000.

“Unfortunately, there has also been a significant increase in labour under-utilisation over the last year as the economy has been unable to find new jobs for all those joining the workforce. Although unemployment has reduced by 20,000, under-employment has surged by 290,000. Overall labour under-utilisation is therefore up by 270,000 from a year ago to 3,015,000 – near post-pandemic highs.

“The high net immigration that is powering this growth in the labour market has kept Australia out of a recession over the last two years with the latest ABS quarterly GDP growth for September 2023 showed the economy growing at only 0.2% for the quarter – less than the rate of population growth.

“However, the swelling workforce is increasingly unable to provide the right type of jobs for all those who need them with over 3 million Australians looking for work or looking for more work. Tackling this continuing high level of unemployment and under-employment must be the number one priority for the Federal Government over the next year heading into the next election due in early 2025.

 

About the Estimates

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly interviews of 949,088 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 and December 2023 and includes 4,503 telephone and online interviews in December 2023. *The ‘under-employed’ are those people who are in part-time work or freelancers who are looking for more work.

Contact Roy Morgan to learn more about Australia’s unemployed and under-employed; who and where they are, and the challenges they face as they search for employment opportunities.

Visit the Roy Morgan Online Store to purchase employment profiles, including for Australians who are employedunemployedunder-employedemployed part-timeemployed full-timeretiredstudying and many more.

Roy Morgan Unemployed and ‘Under-employed’* Estimates

Roy Morgan Unemployed and ‘Under-employed’* Estimates

Roy Morgan Unemployed and ‘Under-employed’* Estimates

 

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What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

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Food and Grocery Code of Conduct - What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

 

By Jeff Gibbs

Public scrutiny of supermarkets has a longstanding history. Nearly a decade preceding the current spotlight on inflated prices and allegations of price gouging, a code of conduct was instituted to address the market disparities between major retailers such as Woolworths and Coles and their suppliers. Fast forward to the present, and it’s evident that issues persist. A 2023 report revealed that over a third of Australian vegetable producers contemplated exiting the industry within a year, citing pressures from retailers on pricing and shrinking profit margins. Consequently, the federal government has commissioned a review of the code of conduct.

So, what precisely is this code, and does it effectively operate? Introduced in 2015, the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct serves as an agreement aimed at enhancing business practices within the supermarket sector, particularly concerning the dynamics among retailers, wholesalers, and suppliers. While suppliers are mandatorily covered by the code, participation by supermarkets remains entirely voluntary. Notably, major players like Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and Metcalf (parent company of IGA) have all opted in.

Under the code, supermarkets bear several obligations, including the fundamental principle of conducting dealings with suppliers in good faith — be it during negotiations, contract establishment, or dispute resolution. However, the code refrains from explicitly defining the concept of “good faith.” Instead, it delineates various factors to assess good faith, such as acting honestly and without retaliatory or coercive measures. Additionally, supermarkets are required to appoint their own code arbiter to investigate disputes and propose resolutions, though a recent review highlighted supplier concerns regarding the arbiters’ lack of independence, resulting in scant formal complaints.

Should a breach of the code occur, suppliers possess the option to file formal complaints with the designated arbiter. Yet, a central critique of the code emerges here: due to its voluntary nature, supermarkets face no tangible repercussions for non-compliance. This deficiency was acknowledged by Dr. Craig Emerson, tasked with leading a review of the code, who emphasised that instituting penalties within a mandatory code could incentivise greater adherence from supermarkets. Nonetheless, supermarkets argue that the paucity of complaints indicates smooth relations between them and suppliers.

Food and Grocery Code of Conduct - What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

The Food and Grocery Code of Conduct serves as an agreement aimed at enhancing business practices within the supermarket sector.

Will the code undergo revision? It remains uncertain. Dr. Emerson is slated to deliver a report on the review by June’s end, which will furnish a recommendation to the federal government on potential amendments — either retaining it as a voluntary pact while modifying certain aspects or overhauling it into mandatory regulation. The government, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, asserted a commitment to taking requisite action following the review’s outcome.

This was acknowledged by Dr Craig Emerson, who said proper penalties in a mandatory code would improve supermarket behaviour after he was appointed to lead a review of the code in January.

“Critics point to the weak enforcement powers in a voluntary code,” he said in early February.

“A mandatory code with penalty provisions would likely incentivise greater compliance by supermarkets.

“Enforcement options could include infringement notices and court proceedings to impose financial penalties for non-compliance.”

Supermarkets, however, say the paltry number of complaints shows the relationships between them and suppliers are running smoothly.

Is the code going to change?

It might, but we don’t know for sure yet.

Emerson is due to deliver a report on the review by the end of June.

That will include a recommendation to the federal government on whether to amend the code – that is, keep it as a voluntary agreement but change some other elements – or remake it entirely to turn it into mandatory regulation.

The government will then have to choose whether or not to accept Emerson’s recommendation.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said when the review was launched that he “will not hesitate to take action” if it’s required.

 

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$900K IN FINES HANDED OUT AS SAFEWORK CRACKS DOWN ON FALLS FROM HEIGHTS THREATS

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Working at Heights in Construction campaign from SafeWorks NSW Blitz

$900K IN FINES HANDED OUT AS SAFEWORK CRACKS DOWN ON FALLS FROM HEIGHTS THREATS

 

Almost $1 million in fines have been issued at the halfway point of SafeWork NSW’s 12-month blitz on falls from heights.

The ‘Working at Heights in Construction’ campaign followed a concerning rise in the number of serious injuries and deaths attributed to falls from heights, resulting in 17 people killed between 2018 and 2022.

Since May 2023, SafeWork Inspectors have visited 1,218 worksites resulting in 1,499 Improvement Notices, 727 Prohibition Notices and 352 Penalty Notices amounting to $972,000.

The blitz has seen Inspectors visit several commercial and residential sites across the state, as well as conducting high visibility checks in manufacturing and warehouse industries in addition to inspections in the transport industry leading up to a busy Christmas period.

During their field work, Inspectors gauged that 65 per cent of industry is using the highest form of safety measures as their first choice including the use of fall prevention devices, such as roof guardrails and scaffolding, rather than fall arrest systems such as harnesses.

SafeWork will continue to prioritise the safety of workers at heights in 2024 with continuing inspections, starting off with a blitz on the safe installation of rooftop solar panels this month.

Working at Heights in Construction campaign from SafeWorks NSW Blitz

Almost $1 million in fines have been issued at the halfway point of SafeWork NSW’s 12-month blitz on falls from heights.

Contractors and builders are obligated to protect workers by identifying height risks and taking steps to control these hazards as far as reasonably practical by implementing higher order controls.

Workers who have concerns about workplace health and safety can anonymously contact SafeWork on 13 10 50 or through the ‘Speak Up Save Lives’ app.

More information relating to working from heights can be found via the SafeWork website

Quotes to be attributed to Head of SafeWork NSW Trent Curtin:  

“As we pass the halfway point of SafeWork’s ‘Working at Heights in Construction’ compliance blitz it is important to note that falls from heights is still the number one cause of traumatic fatalities on NSW construction sites.

“While it is encouraging that 65 per cent of industry is using the highest form of safety measures, this means that 35 per cent are not and this needs to change. Otherwise, businesses run the risk of workplace accidents as well as fines and prosecution.

“During one worksite blitz a SafeWork Inspector noted a worker who was not connected to a harness system while working on a roof. When questioned as to why they were not connected, the worker reasoned that they had been roofing for 30 years without an incident.

“Attitudes like this will eventually result in a workplace accident or death. This is simply unacceptable. SafeWork Inspectors will not hesitate to stop work on site, issue fines and consider prosecution against businesses and individuals disregarding the rules.”

 

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Delivering employment pathways for diverse women

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Return to Work Pathways Program

Delivering employment pathways for diverse women

 

Local organisations in the Lismore electorate can now apply for funding for programs that empower women from diverse backgrounds to thrive in the workforce.

The NSW Government’s Return to Work Pathways Program has launched a new round of applications with grants between $100,000 and $250,000 available for organisations to provide training, mentoring and pathways to employment for diverse women.

Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin said the Return to Work Pathways Program was designed to help women from diverse backgrounds overcome barriers to employment.

“I want everyone in my community to enjoy the same opportunities to succeed in their career.

“This program has a proven track record of helping women to overcome barriers and gain a sense of achievement in their chosen work.

“I encourage local organisations with ideas to help women succeed, to apply for this funding.

Since its inception in 2023, the Return to Work Pathways Program has funded 13 successful projects and is supporting more than 1,000 women with their employment goals.

Return to Work Pathways Program

Return to Work Pathways Program

Minister for Women Jodie Harrison said the NSW Government was committed to fostering economic opportunity and boosting female participation in the workforce.

“The Return to Work Pathways program focuses on initiatives that support women who are experiencing persistent barriers to employment.

“Grants awarded through this program have helped women access sustainable employment opportunities through coaching and training, mentorships or local opportunities.

“Creating pathways to employment means women can have financial security and face life’s challenges with confidence.”

The Return to Work Pathways Program will focus on supporting women and girls:

  • From Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • Living in regional, rural and remote areas of NSW
  • Of diverse sexualities and genders, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer and/or asexual
  • Who are living with disability
  • Who are living with mental illness
  • Who are in contact with the criminal justice system
  • Who are veterans

Return to Work Pathways Program grant applications are now open and close Monday 11 March 2024. For more information on the grant program, eligibility information and how to apply, visit here.

 

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