Australia’s looming unemployment crisis continues to gather momentum with economists scrambling to re-adjust their jobless forecasts, seemingly on a daily basis.

Even mainstream pundits are now predicting Australia’s ballooning jobless rate will reach double digits by the middle of next year, with over 1 million souls set to swamp the beleaguered Job Network, Ironically, the Network has been shedding its own staff amid a massive Rudd Government shake-up.

The nation’s unemployment rate rose 0.5% last month, the largest increase since 1991, with the official figure jumping to 5.7 per cent. But the veracity of that data remains under a cloud after its compiler, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, also announced its own raft of job cuts.

On the sidelines, attention is shifting to the managers and HR departments that control their employees’ destinies.

A scary study of Chief Financial Officers released last week showed a majority thought they were better off sacking staff to cut costs, rather than reducing executive salaries. But by fat the most galling example of corporate malfeasance has been plans by the Big Four banking cartel to accelerate lay-offs, despite recording multi-billion dollar first half profits.

This morning’s ANZ $1.4 billion profit bonanza comes amid its decision to axe around 1,000 staff from its local operations over the past year.

While some employers, including Holden and News Limited, continue to dodge the PR fallout by cutting shifts rather than sacking workers, others are less reticent as our latest SackWatch update shows.

Check our meta-list for the full jobs fallout since early January.

Australian Red Cross: Will reduce the number of national fundraising positions by 30 at the end of June, according to a tipster (Crikey put in a call to confirm this but the Red Cross didn’t get back before deadline).

KPMG: Perth office has made around 50 positions redundant, about half from the audit division. “Some staff were offered redeployment to their Risk Advisory Services division. The whole thing has been handled appalingly given the extreme workloads many of these same staff were saddled with up until recently”, a tipster said.

National Australia Bank: Has slashed 625 jobs over the last year and is set to close 35 branches nationwide as customers shift from dreary tellers to internet and phone banking

MLC: The NAB-owned wealth management arm has cut its full timers by 209 to 3,661 staff

The finance sector: 9000 workers have lost their jobs in the past six months, according to the Finance Sector Union

The insurance industry: Expects employment to fall by about 1,080, or 2.6%, this financial year

Telstra: 100 technicians set to lose their jobs in coming weeks, according to internal documents

Macmahon Holdings Limited: BHP contractor has slashed 360 jobs at two Central Queensland mines due to the economic crisis, part of an estimated 3300 job cuts across BHP’s Australian operations. The company previously sacked 420 workers

BHP Billiton: Up to 900 miners will go if the mining multinational acts on plans to close its Yubulu nickel smelter in Queensland. 1800 jobs were lost after the miner closed its Ravensthorpe nickel plant in January as the global nickel price fell off a cliff

Rio Tinto: 8500 jobs in the firing line as part of plans to reduce its global workforce by 14,000. 500 jobs have alread gone from subsidiary Alcan’s Yarwun Two site alongside 700 jobs lost in central and far north Queensland

Iluka: 200 positions lost across Western Australia at its mining operations

The mining industry: 11,000 jobs gone since the resources boom collapsed last year

OneSteel: Chief executive says cuts will impact on “a lot” of the steelmaker’s 11,000-strong workforce, amid concern over interest coverage ratios

Ballarat gold mine: 200 workers retrenched from struggling mine

Qantas: 1750 jobs gone on top of 1500 other staff sacked last year as international business collapses

The tourism industry: 29,000 jobs on the chopping block if the recession deepens, according to a report

Carter Holt Harvey: 90 jobs lost at timber products maker in South Australia’s south-east

PMP: 67 permanent jobs to go from PMP’s Clayton printing plant in Victoria, on top of earlier cuts at its Queensland operations

Mitre 10: 80 back office staff to be scrapped by the end of June following a high-level review

Caterpillar: Machinery manufacturer is shedding 280 jobs at end of this month, raising questions about the plant’s long term future

Flight Centre: Travel oligopolist has so far cut approximately 100 Australian jobs and up to 1,000 internationally

Kleenmaid: 150 staff will lose their jobs after the Queensland-based kitchen and laundry appliance firm was placed into voluntary administration

Maxitrans: More than 50 workers were sacked from the Ballarat-based truck trailer company

Star Track Express: 400 freight staff under threat as volumes collapse in the wake of the GFC

Miric Industries: 80 jobs to go as manufacturing firm enters receivership

Lyco Innovations: Ballarat-based firm has entered receivership with the future 80 jobs uncertain

The Australian Public Service: Around 3000 jobs have been reportedly hacked from the public service in line owing to the infamous annual “efficiency dividend” — or “inefficiency dividend” — depending on who you talk to. Jobs are expected to come under further pressure as Lindsay Tanner’s “razor gang” gains momentum.

Peter Fray

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