It’s now official: the booming resources and construction industries are largely responsible for the ever shrinking pool of skilled workers available to the wider economy.
New data from the 2006 census released yesterday reveals that the number of people employed in mining and construction has grown much faster than other sectors over the past five years. Almost 710,000 people now work in the construction industry, almost 100,000 more than in 2001. Mining now employs almost 107,000, a 42% increase on five years ago.
At the other end of the spectrum, the number of workers employed in manufacturing, once a core source of employment, fell below the one million mark in the past five years. Just 952,020 people are now employed in the sector, down from 1,010,179 in 2001.
And despite the general shift in the Australian economy towards services, employment in some key services industries either stalled or declined.
Most strikingly, the number of people employed in the retail sector has fallen from just over 1.211 million to 1.03 million, although it retains its status as the single biggest employer in the country.
And despite its growing global importance, the information and communication technology industry’s share of employment in Australia has also barely increased, rising from just 148,480 in 2001 to 176,816 in 2006.
When it comes to working hours, however, the spread of prosperity in Australia’s resource-led economy appears to have done some good.
The proportion working more than 49 hours per week has dropped from 34.6% in 2001 to just under 30% in 2006, although that still leaves over 1.6 million people around the country putting in extreme hours.
Men remain much more likely to work very long hours than women, with 1.23 million men and 370,000 women saying they put in 49 hours or more per week.