Australian labour market continues to improve but Omicron overshadows all

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest labour force data today (January 20, 2022) – Labour Force, Australia – for December 2021. The situation is this: most states have now abandoned Covid restrictions. The December survey was taken a few weeks after the ‘opening up’ and before Omicron got settled at parties, events, restaurants and wherever else it is lurking. Infections are now very high but the data only captures the opening up effect (with some Omicron impact). Employment growth slowed but was still strong and unemployment and underemployment fell significantly. We are seeing the impact of flat population growth coming up against growing demand for workers and that is the reason the unemployment rate has fallen so quickly. It is good for workers but that won’t last long because the government is already trying to lure foreign workers to fill so-called labour shortages. This will stop the wages growth that would benefit domestic workers from occurring. Overall, this is an improving situation although whether it will last is another question given the rapidly rising infection rate. It is certainly time for the Federal government to take advantage of the strengthening situation in the non-government sector and target some really good job creation initiatives in the regions and demographic cohorts that are still lagging behind.

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