Is the mining industry to blame for WA’s record high unemployment rate?
Mining has been the central pillar of Western Australia’s economy in recent years, but the turbulent nature of the industry has a tangible effect on our job market – for better and for worse.
With a large number of mining and construction auctions coming up at Gregsons, we decided to take a look at the current state of WA’s mining industry, the impact it has on our jobs, and the forecast for this year.
Plummeting employment rates in WA
Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed that WA’s unemployment rate is the highest on record since January 2002. It’s also been reported that nearly 100,000 West Australians are currently looking for work, which is the highest number since first tracked in 1978.
The disheartening figures arose just one day after the pledge by Premier Mark McGowan that the government would create 150,000 jobs in WA over the next five years – a target that seems increasingly difficult to achieve.
But despite the loss of jobs in certain industries, such as finance, retail and property, the mining industry continues to create jobs for West Australians. With 10,000 new jobs created in 2018, and major ventures such as the Gorgon Project which promises continued job creation, the mining industry has the potential to significantly reduce the unemployment rate across the state.
The impact of the mining industry on the WA job market
While the growth in mining could be seen as the saviour to WA’s employment slump, economic experts warn that many jobs in this industry are created during the investment and construction phase of a project, and therefore the new jobs being created aren’t built to last.
The transient nature of the mining industry makes a visible short-term impact on WA’s economy, with certain investors reaping the benefits in the form of dividends, but WA Government has commented that the state needs to be less reliant on the mining industry if we want to see a lasting improvement in job growth:
“Greater contributions from domestically‑focused and non-mining export industries will be needed to sustain Western Australia’s economic growth in the future. A broadening of economic activity will also help reduce the reliance on the mining and public sector industries to drive jobs growth”
(Government of Western Australia, Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation)
Looking ahead, while the mining industry clearly continues to be a fundamental component of WA’s economy for creating new jobs and improving our seasonal employment rates, the introduction of new industries and diversifying the job sector should be seen as the long term strategy for our economic stability and continued growth.
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