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John Passant

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August 2009



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Underemployment rising

The July employment figures in Australia appeared on the surface to be encouraging.  Unemployment remained stable at 5.8 percent.

Economists were predicting a rise to 6 percent. So what happened?

The number of full time  jobs fell by 16,000, but that was more than counterbalanced by a rise in part-time employment of 48,200.

Unemployment actually went up by 800.  This is because the number of people looking for full time employment fell slightly less than the number looking for part-time employment increased.

The number of hours worked fell.  In fact while the population has increased just under 2 percent in the last year the number of hours worked has fallen 2.3 percent.

In Australia if you work one hour you are not unemployed, so underemployment is not showing up in the unemployment figures.   

The shift to part-time work is a classic indicator of a deepening recession for workers.

In the first year or so employers look to keep trained staff by moving them to less paid hours to address declining demand.

They also try to cut wages and increase unpaid hours, and, if they do advertise for new workers, often want part-timers or casuals.

Part-time work can be a disguised wage cut – workers end up being paid part-time wages for full time hours. 

This move to part-time and casual work is reflected in a gender employment difference – male unemployment (more likely to be full time work) rose and female unemployment (more likely to be part-time) fell.

The end result is lower household income and living standards. 

Male unemployment is now 6.2 percent and female unemployment 5.3 percent.

The ANZ job ads index shows that the new job market has collapsed.  It is 50 percent lower than  a year ago.  The decline is slowing – it ‘only’ fell 1.7 percent in July.

So unemployment will continue to increase, as will underemployment.  Shifting from full to part time employment  is a holding pattern by the bosses, waiting for an improvement in the economy.

But if the economy doesn’t improve then part-time work is merely a half way house to unemployment.

The signs for future employment are not that encouraging.  Even though the Reserve Bank of Australia has revised its predictions for growth in the coming year to half a percent, the economy needs to grow at over 3 percent to keep unemployment steady.

 And if the recovery is built on nothing more than Government spending and increased household debt (offset for a few months perhaps by   $900 in ‘vote for Kevin’ money) then it is built on sand.

The underlying problem – the low rate of profit – hasn’t been addressed, even in typical capitalist fashion by the creative destruction of massive amounts of capital and brutally driving down wages.

For once I agree with Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan – we are not yet out of the woods.  And if we are I suspect we are in a clearing before we enter further into the heart of darkness.

As the stimulus package runs its course, and cash strapped Governments around the world fear repeating the medicine, a W shaped recession is still a real possibility.

Readers might also like to look at A W-shaped recession, Rudd’s message: all power to the casino capitalistsZombie capitalism and Forget green shoots: the global freefall continues.



Comment from juan
Time August 11, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Are we to assume then that Kevin is Oz’s King Leopold?

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