Embarrassingly for the popular press, the official jobs data, seasonally adjusted for January, released last week by the ABS showed both full time employment increased (by 12,300 jobs) and part-time employment increased (by 34,000 jobs) to actually decrease the unemployment rate from 5.2% to 5.1%. This is on the back of the labour market participation rate increasing by 0.1 to 65.3%.
As usual, Fairfax Media's economics writer, Ross Gittins, succinctly cut through all the BS last Wednesday in his regular column (‘Doom and gloom? Things aren't nearly as bad as you think', The Age, Wednesday 15 February 2012). Here's what he had to say:
"...we hear when a big company announces it has decided to get rid of a block of workers. It makes an announcement because it wants to impress the sharemarket or pressure the government for assistance.
But we don't hear when big companies decide to hire a block of workers or, as more usually happens, they hire people in dribs and drabs. And we're told virtually nothing about the hiring and firing by small business. Get the feeling that we're being given a biased impression?
There is, however, another, more fundamental reason we'll be getting a distorted impression of the economy this year. We're getting the idea the high dollar is causing the economy to slow down and shed jobs.
In truth, the high dollar and the factors that brought it about are shifting jobs from one industry to another. That's painful for the contracting industries - and we're hearing their cries loud and clear - but we're not hearing much from the expanding industries.
While jobs are being lost in manufacturing and elsewhere, employment will be growing in mining and construction, pretty obviously, but also in the services sector, including in health, education and training, public administration, the science professions and arts and recreation.'
Without exception, all my clients are reporting pretty much ‘business as usual' results for the first couple of months of this year and the rec-to-rec's I'm talking to are all just as busy as ever with requests for consultants.
My advice - don't take any notice of the mainstream media. Pick up the phone and talk to people; jobs are being created and candidates are active and ready to move.