Evaluating employment figures

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Shadow Treasurer Scott Bacon

Two sets of employment figures were released on the same day recently which both provide Tasmanians with plenty of food for thought.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated that total employment across Tasmania was up but full-time employment had unfortunately slipped backwards.

The unemployment rate is down to 5.9 per cent and the participation rate is steady at 61.2 per cent, an improvement on where we were 12 months ago.

But it’s the shift from full-time to part-time employment that has attracted the most interest from commentators.

Journalist Sean Ford from the Advocate examined full-time jobs figures across the last decade.

“The state has lost a net 13,600 full-time jobs since September 2008 at the start of the Global Financial Crisis,” Mr Ford wrote.

He also noted that across the same period, total jobs had actually increased by 4900 “due to a surge in part-time work”.

That is a huge shift in the profile of Tasmania’s labour force.

We know our tourism and hospitality sectors are booming and part-time work in those sectors are inevitable, but it’s full-time jobs we should be striving to create.

It’s full-time work that will give Tasmanians enough income to live comfortably and it’s full-time work that will entice former residents to return home to further their careers.

Of course, there is no easy answer but Labor is determined to address this issue with policy positions that will underpin full-time employment.

We want to work closely with industry to know what barriers are stopping them from taking on workers full-time as opposed to part-time.

The second set of employment figures that caught our eye were the latest updates from Tasmania’s public sector.

The public service is actually larger than it was when the Liberals came to power in 2014.

The data shows there are now 520 additional FTEs (full-time equivalents) than in June 2014.

These figures are particularly surprising given we know, on coming to power, the Liberal Government reduced the size of the public sector by 861 FTEs.

From a value-for-money point of view, I think it’s fair to question whether paying more than $32 million for redundancies was efficient when less than 3 years later the workers have been replaced.

Labor would have preferred to have seen the public service managed with less fluctuations to avoid bulk redundancy payouts and impacts on service delivery.

We were very critical of the Government’s budget cuts in health and education which we believe the state is still recovering from.

The large proportion of savings made from hospitals and schools contradicts the Treasurer’s argument that he “cut from the backline and invested in the frontline”.

Labor is committed to working closely with the public sector so taxpayers get maximum value for money.

We are determined to find efficiencies that won’t affect service delivery and believe the best way to achieve that is work constructively with the workforce.”

By Shadow Treasurer Scott Bacon

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