Plenty of jobs but local participation rates low

Business NSW Central Coast Regional Director, Paula Martin

The Central Coast is matching the rest of the state with a jobs boom, with more than 2,100 positions advertised in the region last month.

Business NSW Central Coast Regional Director, Paula Martin, said while there were plenty of jobs on the table, participation rates are still challenging for the Coast.

The participation rate is a measure of the proportion of the working age population (persons aged 15 and over) who are actively engaged in the labour market, either by working or looking for work.

“The Central Coast is matching the state with strong growth in employment,” Martin said.

“Last month we saw over 2,100 jobs advertised across sectors and across professions.

“Our unemployment rate in April was 3.1% continuing historic lows for the region and the impacts are being felt across industry.

“Our recent Business Conditions Survey showed that over 95 per cent of businesses are experiencing labour shortages (which is) the biggest barrier to growth.

“Whilst participation rates on the Central Coast improved in April reaching 54.2 per cent, we still lag behind the overall State average.

“For business to maximise their potential and for the Central Coast to thrive as a city, all levels of government and industry need to accelerate smart solutions to address our labour shortages.”

Martin said assisting women into the workforce, young people with career pathways and mature Australians to re-join the workforce without penalty are key areas to be worked on.

Overall in NSW there were 61,900 full-time jobs advertised in May and the participation rate increased to a record high of 66.2 per cent according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

National employment figures for April and May 2022

Employment across the State is now 133,000 above the pre-COVID level and more than 90,000 above the pre-Delta peak.

Treasurer Matt Kean said the results were very positive for the state with the participation rate jumping by 1 percentage point, now sitting 0.9 percentage points above pre-COVID levels (Feb 2020).

“Employment growth is booming in NSW and we’re seeing record participation rates, well above pre-pandemic levels, and this is no fluke,” he said.

“Our nation-leading response to the pandemic helped families and businesses across the state with more than $47B in support since March 2020.”

Kean said participation in the workforce is being driven by the continuing rise in female participation which is now at record levels.

“The female participation rate hit a record 61.9 per cent, well above the pre-COVID level of 60.2 per cent,” he said.

“The male participation rate rose by a strong 1.2 percentage points to 70.7 per cent, also above the pre-COVID levels.”

Kean said the number of hours worked rose by 2.2 per cent in May, despite continued Omicron-related illness and an uptick in flu cases.

Hours worked is now 2.7 per cent above December 2021 levels.

The large jump in participation meant that the unemployment rate rose 0.5 percentage points to 4.0 per cent in May, up from last month’s record low.

“The unemployment rate in NSW remains low and the number of hours people are working has seen a strong increase as we continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic,” Kean said.

“Month-on-month we’re reaping the benefits of the NSW Government’s strong economic management throughout the challenges of the pandemic and our recovery.”

Terry Collins

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