Surge in full-time work offsets fall in part-time jobs

employment, jobAustralia’s unemployment rate rose to 5.6 per cent in February as more people looked for jobs, however a surge in full-time positions has more than offset a fall in part-time jobs.

The total number of people with jobs rose by 17,500 in February, as the addition of 64,900 full-time jobs eclipsed the 47,400 drop off in part-time positions, seasonally adjusted figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

February’s unemployment rate came in slightly above market expectations of a flat result, in line with January’s 5.5 per cent rate.

The participation rate, which refers to the number of people either employed or actively looking for work, remained largely steady, increasing by less than 0.1 per cent, at 65.7 per cent.

The increase in full-time employment comes a day after Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus launched a new campaign to combat insecure work and called for a clear definition of what constitutes casual work.

“Casual work has increased, sham contracting continues unchecked, labour hire is growing, contracting out continues and the so-called gig economy is expanding,” Ms McManus said.

Employers in the so-called gig economy – which includes platforms such as Uber, Airtasker and Deliveroo – are also in the ACTU’s sights.

Ms McManus called for casual, gig economy and labour hire workers to get the same minimum conditions as full-time employees, including access to dismissal tribunals and collective bargaining, on top of the right to convert to permanent employment.

Since February 2017, full-time employment has increased by 327,600 jobs, while part-time jobs rose by 93,100, ABS data shows.

Commsec chief economist Craig James said February was the 17th straight month of jobs growth.

“When will the record-breaking run of job gains end? The forward-looking indicators like job advertisements suggest that employment will continue to lift in coming months – so a near-term correction is not envisaged,” Mr James said.

Tasmania has the largest increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, up 0.7 percentage points to 6.0 per cent, followed by a 0.2 per cent increase in South Australia and Western Australia, to 6.3 per cent and 6.0 per cent, respectively.

The unemployment rate in NSW fell from 5.1 per cent to 4.8 per cent.

Mr James said that while the broader economy continues to out perform, patches of weakness remain.

“Clearly more needs to be done in terms of job creation, but from an economy-wide perspective the 1.2 per cent lift in hours worked highlights a solid lift in activity,” he said.

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