Thursday, 18 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator Cash. Could the minister please update the Senate on the state of the labour market following today's ABS labour force figures and how the Morrison government is supporting Australia's economic recovery through strong economic policy?
I thank Senator McGrath for the question. Indeed, today the labour force figures were released by the ABS for January 2021. They show that in January 2021 the Australian labour market continued to recover from the effects of COVID-19. We saw today that employment increased by 29,100 over the month. That is not just a figure; these are Australians getting into work. That is what this government is all about—putting in place the right economic policies to ensure that businesses are able to keep their employees employed or, as we move into the next phase, bring additional employees into their workplaces.
We saw the unemployment rate decrease from 6.6 per cent to 6.4 per cent. Encouragingly, the increase in employment over the month of January was due entirely to a rise in full-time jobs, which surged by 59,000 in January. Over the last four consecutive months now we've seen full-time employment rise—in fact, it is a total of 277,600—to now stand at 8,820,400 in January 2021. Certainly, Minister Payne has commented to me that, encouragingly, full-time employment for women rose strongly over the month. It was up 32,100.
While employment itself fell by 872,100 between March, when Australia recorded its 100th case of COVID-19, and May, it has since increased by 813,600 over the last eight months. We've now recovered more than 93 per cent of the jobs that were lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(—) (): The employment figures released today show underlying economic strength and that the labour market in Australia is now responding and jobs are being added. But we still know, and the Prime Minister often says, things are difficult. They are still difficult for many Australians, and they will continue to be difficult for some time. But that is why the Morrison government, in the first place, put in place a policy that enabled employers to keep their employees connected to their employment—and that was, of course, the JobKeeper policy. We also put in place the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy, which kept those apprentices and trainees on the job, where we needed them to be. Now we're in 2021, and we have our $74 billion JobMaker Plan. That is now going to build on the success of the programs and ensure that we allow businesses to bring additional people into their workplaces. That's what we're doing: putting in place the economic policies to support businesses and employees. (Time expired)
While there is a long road ahead, as we know, Australia is well positioned. If you look at the research by Deloitte Access Economics, they noted that Australia is just one out of five nations to enter 2021 very well placed, with our economy bouncing back and even outperforming expectations. We've actually seen job ads, ATO payroll data, business confidence and consumer confidence return to pre-COVID levels. Despite the impacts of COVID-19, the latest ABS data shows us that an additional 46,000 businesses were training over the year to June 2020. We've also seen deferred loan payments resume by households and small businesses, and new dwelling approvals and new house sales are all increasing. That is because the right suite of policies were put in place by the Morrison government, and that's what we'll continue to do to keep businesses in business and people in work.