Dec 7, 2017

We’ve achieved a ‘flexible economy’, but at what cost?

Much of the big surge in jobs growth this year has come in the health sector. But it also appears to be the result of a flexible economy -- and while we've always been told that's good, it comes with its own problems.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Whatever flaws the Turnbull government may have, it has presided over a truly impressive achievement on jobs growth. In the 12 months to October, around 350,000 jobs were created in Australia in trend terms -- over 80% of them full-time jobs. And around 55% of the 350,000 jobs have gone to women. We'll know a bit more about where those jobs were created when the ABS releases detailed employment data in coming weeks. But data from the August quarter showed that there had been a huge -- almost unbelievable -- surge of over 130,000 new jobs in health and social care in the previous 12 months, with over 60,000 created in the August quarter alone.

That represents a big acceleration for health and social care, which, in 2016 and early 2017, appeared to have been dropping back from its rapid growth of recent years. And unsurprisingly, the great bulk of those additional health and social care jobs went to women. And while the rollout of the NDIS has been expected to drive jobs in this sector, around half of the new jobs -- 64,000 -- were in hospitals.

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