TASMANIA is on track to break its all-time jobs record in 2015.
The state’s strong jobs growth looks set to continue into the new year.
Tasmania has a number of big projects coming up, growing strength in several key sectors and an economy looking more likely than not to keep improving.
The state added 10,200 jobs in the 12 months to the end of November.
That took total jobs to 240,800, in trend terms figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
State Treasury said that was the most since December 2008 (in the early stages of the global financial crisis).
Tasmania is now just 1200 jobs off its all-time high of 242,000, which was set in October 2008.
It is possible the record has already been broken.
The December numbers will not be released until January 15.
Tasmania gained 1200 jobs in November and will equal the record if it repeats that for December.
Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff said the government expected to see jobs growth in most areas of the economy in 2015.
“In particular, increasing visitor numbers should see strong growth in tourism jobs. Our premium brand will see growth in agriculture, aquaculture and wine, beer, cider and whisky production, while the statewide construction boom under way at the moment will provide opportunities for tradies and their families to move back to Tasmania after that sector all but collapsed under Labor and the Greens,” Mr Rockliff said.
“Our long-term plan is all about capitalising on these opportunities and our No. 1 priority as a government is jobs.”
AROUND THE REGIONS
The state now has all three main regions increasing jobs, after the North returned to jobs growth in October.
The North-West and West Coast region has has been growing jobs since mid-2013, with the South joining the party early this year.
That is based on averaging 12 months of original terms jobs figures from the ABS (due to volatility in the monthly numbers).
The North-West and West averaged 50,200 jobs in the 12 months to the end of November; up by 1500 on the previous year.
According to state Treasury, Launceston and the North-East averaged 66,000 jobs for the year (up by 1000) and Hobart and the South-East averaged 120,100 (up by 1800).
Jobs growth is all very well, but it can sometimes mask underlying weakness.
For example, you can have technical jobs growth when you gain 700 part-time jobs but lose 699 full-time jobs.
That makes the ABS’ statistics on the number of hours of paid work particularly useful.
In Tasmania, the signs have been excellent.
According to state Treasury’s analysis of the numbers, Tasmania had the nation’s strongest growth in average hours worked per employee and in total (paid) hours worked in the year to the end of November.
The average hours worked by employed Tasmanians increased by 4.6 per cent during the year (2.1 per cent nationally), to 30.9 hours.
The total hours worked by all employed Tasmanians increased by 6.5 per cent, compared to 3.1 per cent nationally.
Advertised job vacancies give useful pointers to future jobs growth or decline.
The signs are mostly good on this front in Tasmania.
Internet vacancies (by far the most common form of job advertising these days) increased by 9.2 per cent in Tasmania in the year to the end of November, according to Department of Employment figures.
That was slightly ahead of the national figure and beaten only by New South Wales and Victoria.
Vacancies fell in Tasmania by 0.5 per cent in November, although that was too small and isolated a fall to be concerning at this stage.
Tasmania’s “most wanted” in November, in order, were professionals, technicians and tradies, labourers, clerical and administrative services workers, sales workers, community and personal services workers, managers and machinery operators and drivers.
Strong demand for technicians and tradies and labourers suggests construction expects growth.
Some jobs-rich projects in the region are on the way.
They include the expected re-opening of the Avebury nickel mine, near Zeehan, which would add about 200 jobs, and a $9 million revamp and recommissioning of the Hampshire woodchip mill.
There are strong hopes the Mount Lyell Mine will re-open, although 2015 might be a touch optimistic.
Agribusiness Costa, dairying, the fish farmers and tourism are also expected be be strong performers, while manufacturing has the best set of circumstances it has faced for some years.
Low iron ore prices are a concern, but key North-West producer Grange Resources has performed brilliantly so far during the price downturn, on exposed numbers.
DOLLAR AND OIL
The significantly lower Australian dollar is likely to help Tasmania even more than Australia as a whole.
That is because Tasmania is so export-dependent (particularly mining, agriculture, aquaculture, manufacturing and, in a sense, tourism).
The lower dollar makes our exports cheaper and makes Australia, including Tasmania, more affordable for foreign tourists.
It also makes Australians more likely to holiday in their own country, opening up further possibilities for Tasmania.
The dollar’s slide can also be expected to help local retailers, whose recent numbers have been strong.
That is because it makes buying goods online from overseas more expensive and less cost-competitive.
The falling oil price should also help virtually all Tasmanian individuals and businesses through cheaper fuel costs and cheaper transport costs (assuming, of course, the price drops make it across Bass Strait).
If lower fuel costs take hold for an extended period, they would potentially provide scope for even deeper fare price cuts on the Spirits of Tasmania and might encourage airlines to drop their prices as well, or increase services.
One important jobs area where Tasmania is still going backwards is long-term unemployment.
That is a worry partly because of the large numbers of families “locked in” to unemployment, often across generations.
Despite strong overall jobs growth, the number of long-term unemployed Tasmanians shot up by about 1400 (29.5 per cent) to about 6200 in the year to the end of November, according to state Treasury analysis of ABS figures.
Of those, the number of very long-term unemployed was up by about 800 to about 3100.
Tasmania had easily the highest rate of long-term unemployment in the nation.
Long-term unemployed people have been unemployed for a year or more.
The very long-term unemployed have been jobless for two years or more.
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