Forestry leads jobs bounce
A record number of Tasmanians are working, with latest figures showing 600 full-time jobs created in March, and ‘new’ forestry is one of the main contributors.
Perhaps most heartening is that this jobs growth is now starting to flow into regional areas.
Latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show good news for Tasmania. Over the past four months 2,100 full-time jobs have been added – 600 of those in March alone.
All this equates to record employment levels, according to Treasurer Peter Gutwein.
“Today there are more Tasmanians in work than ever before, with the total number of people employed at a record high of 246,900,” he said.
“Tasmanians are also more confident about getting a job, with the state’s participation rate up 0.9 per cent over the year to March 2018.”
The ABS data also points to an employment turnaround, reversing a decline that dates back to mid-last year when full-time jobs in Tasmania dropped by 2,400 between June and October 2017.
Economist Saul Eslake told The Mercury these figures indicate some part-time workers have been able to move back into full-time jobs.
“It also shows that while the population is growing, there are enough jobs being created to keep the unemployment rate stable,” he said.
Tasmania’s peak business group, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI), is heartened by the latest trends.
“Yes, this new jobs data is very significant,” TCCI Chief Executive, Michael Bailey said.
“It indicates the return of full-time work.
“We have been concerned about the growth in part-time jobs for some time now.”
He added that the trend back to full-time employment is a clear sign of economic growth: “It is very pleasing to see this increase in full-time jobs as it shows that our economy is really becoming strong.”
A clear sign also of an increasingly diversified economy with Mr Bailey pointing to a number of booming sectors underpinning growth – tourism, construction, retail, agriculture and aquaculture.
“We want to see a really robust economy with a lot of different elements all doing well,” Mr Bailey said.
“It is pleasing to see we have lots of eggs in lots of different baskets.”
However, there is one sector that Mr Bailey did single out – forestry – saying it was a key contributor to the 600 full-time jobs added in March.
“Forestry is back,” Mr Bailey said.
“We are seeing the return of forestry, but a ‘new’ forestry and a smarter forestry.
“The forestry industry in the southern forests, and also in the north-east, is moving into better and more value-added products, such as pellets, driving this recent job growth.”
Mr Bailey suggests taking a drive through Scottsdale, the heartland of the north-east forestry industry, and it will quickly become apparent that confidence is returning.
“After years in the doldrums Scottsdale is coming alive once more,” Mr Bailey said.
“Head into town and speak to any of the businesses and they will all say the same thing. The trucks are coming back into town and people are going into stores and buying chainsaws and other equipment again.”
This activity in Scottsdale also reflects an important trend emerging in latest employment data. Jobs growth is now spreading into regional areas and no longer just confined to Hobart.
“Hobart is a juggernaut, and it has been booming for some time,” Mr Bailey said.
“But we are now seeing this action spreading out from the South and into other regions which are also starting to see increases in full-time jobs.”
Construction is a case in point.
The stand-out regional performer on that front is Devonport, which Mr Bailey described as “really booming.”
Central to this is Devonport’s Living City urban renewal; a five to ten-year construction project that will see the development of new retail, business and waterfront precincts creating hundreds of jobs along the way.
All of these are helping with the resurgence of vitally important full-time jobs.
Image courtesy of The Mercury
8 May 2018, Edition 194