More good
news with the release of June unemployment figures showing another fall in
unemployment. Although the seasonally adjusted rate remained at 4.9%
(un-seasonally adjusted decreased from 4.9% to 4.8%), employers added a further
52,000 jobs in June, showing that demand for labour continues to rise in the
increasingly tight labour market.

The June
unemployment rate follows the same trend as the Roy Morgan Unemployment
Estimate
,
which in June found that unemployment fell from 8% to 6.6%. The Roy Morgan
Estimate is higher than the official ABS rate because it includes elements of
the unemployed population that are ignored by the official
rate.

Yesterday
saw the release of the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Confidence Index,
which rose 3.5% to 107.4 in June – also in line with the Roy Morgan Consumer
Confidence Rating
.
As Henry reported last week, the June Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Rating
gained three points to 118.1 less than two months after the May interest rate hike,
showing that the rate hike and rising petrol prices has had less impact on the
economy than expected.

The release
today of a Morgan Poll on worker’s satisfaction with the way they are currently employed shows two
major points: 1) that worker satisfaction is high, and 2) far more people
believe they are employed under an Australian Workplace Agreement than actually
are.

Dealing with the second point first, according to the Morgan Poll,
17% of workers believe they are employed under an AWA, however the
actual rate is close to 4%. It is therefore up to the employers of
Australia, and the Australian Government, to educate workers as to the
conditions under which they are employed. The Howard Government’s
Industrial Relations reforms are at this stage shaping up to be a
significant election issue, and it is in everybody’s interests for
workers to understand their own workplace arrangements to enable them
to make their own educated opinions.

Despite the
confusion, the fact that 83% of all workers, and 75% of those who
believe they are on an AWA, are satisfied with the way they are employed shows
that actual arrangements are a low priority. The Morgan Poll qualitative data
shows that worker dissatisfaction is more likely derived from low pay rates and
poor career opportunities. If Industrial Relations do end up as the chief
election decider, the winner will be whichever party can deliver on these
issues.

The
Australian economy at present has record low unemployment, rising consumer
confidence and high levels of worker satisfaction. It is tempting to sit back
and enjoy the good news, but Henry reminds that we do not want to give away
Australia’s low-inflation reputation
– there is nothing more likely to ruin the nirvana economy and force a change in
Government than skyrocketing interest rates and
inflation.

More
reading at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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