The long, slow trickle of job slashing headlines has prompted Crikey to provisionally rehabilitate its popular and highly regarded Sackwatch column, last seen in mid-2009 when we tracked the fallout in corporate Australia in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

As Glenn Dyer and Bernard Keane noted yesterday, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Labor Force data showed the unemployment rate had fallen by 0.1 of a percentage point to 5.1%. Likewise, on Wednesday Ross Gittens noted that most headline-garnering sackings only represent a fraction of the 11,421,300-strong national labour force.

On the other hand, Roy Morgan has consistently reported real unemployment rates of over 10% with 2.21 million Australians looking for work and wealth as income inequality surges to record levels. (Of course, Morgan’s indicator has been partly supplanted by the “hours worked” indicator that the ABS put in place a couple of years ago, which fell slightly in January but rose slightly in December, contradicting the job numbers).

So what is going on? In some unlucky sectors of the economy, especially Australia’s flailing manufacturing and finance sectors, the bad news has been brewing for months. And last year was a weak year for jobs, particularly after an unexpectedly strong 2010, with natural disasters, slower population growth, poor consumer sentiment and Eurogeddon restraining growth to one of the lowest rates in years.

The anecdotes may not adequately reflect the shifting nature of our jobs market, but they do give us a bit of an indication of which sectors are hurting (without of course mentioning the ones — such as health and the services sector — that are travelling quite nicely.) So here it is, a compilation of the shock-horror sacking headlines that have popped up over last few months:

Yesterday, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced 500 further sackings following a drop in profit after its self-imposed grounding last year. That’s on top of 1000 job losses flagged last year to cut into its 36,000-strong workforce and the 1000 positions that may go from its maintenance division.

ANZ: Will hive off 1000 jobs by September despite last year’s $5.6 billion profit

Westpac: About 560 jobs to go, according to the Finance Sector Union, elevating its redundancy program well into four figures

Macquarie: The once-talismanic investment bank has cut 1000 jobs through axings or offshoring to India and the Philippines in the past year with 500 positions lost in the past six months

KPMG Australia: More positions to go from its 5000 strong staff base following the launch of an extended leave and voluntary redundancy program last year

Suncorp: Will move 140 jobs to Asia amid speculation, denied by the company, that 2000 Queensland positions could eventually go

The finance sector: The FSU says 10,000 staff will be sacked from Australia’s financial sector within 18 months as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis continues

Sleep City: About 450 jobs are at risk after the bedding retailer appointed administrators

Kell & Rigby: The 102-year-old building company has ceased trading and will nix 500 jobs, leaving a further 50 subcontractors in the lurch

Alcoa: Has flagged job cuts at its Point Henry smelter, prompting crisis talks with state and federal politicians. There are 600 on the payroll and a further 1000 workers employed in Alcoa-dependent gigs

PMP: The printer is planning to offer more redundancies this year following 50 departures at a subsidiary last year

Victoria: Some 3600 public service positions to go as Ted Baillieu moves to balance the state’s books. And according to the Herald Sun, ‘economists’ say 11,000 jobs could be lost in Victoria in the next six months

Norsk Hydro: Has nixed 190 jobs at its Kurri Kurri plant and will look to axe a further 100 jobs at a nearby smelter

Toyota: There has been 350 job losses already announced at its Altona plant

Sega Australia: Has dispensed with 37 jobs at its Brisbane studio

SPC Ardmona: Around 150 people lost their jobs when the Coke-owned factory at Mooroopna shut up shop

Heinz: Shed 146 jobs when it closed its Girgarre factory and moved tomato sauce production to New Zealand

Reckitt Benckiser: The Mortein and Dettol manufacturer has closed its West Ryde plant, and shed 190 jobs

Australian Bureau of Statistics: Seventy-five positions gone as the unemployment-compiling data agency moves to comply with the federal government’s public service efficiency dividend

News Ltd: CEO Kim Williams is poised to eliminate 100 middle managers and back-office staff

The PMO: Spinner Tony Hodges boned after engaging in Kim Sattler-related Lobby Restaurant Aboriginal Tent Embassy communications.

Peter Fray

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