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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (30 July) . . Page.. 3017..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

elections. With respect to business size, small businesses recorded a healthy net effect of 33.8 per cent, down marginally on the previous survey. Both medium sized and large businesses recorded strong results, up 15.4 and 15.2 percentage points respectively. The net effect for all three business sizes was substantially higher than at the same time last year.

The optimistic outlook of the Hudson Report is supported by the most recent results of the ANZ job ads series, which is currently running at close to record levels. As a leading indicator of employment, strong growth in ANZ job ads is indicative of high levels of business confidence and labour market strength. Trend ANZ job ads have been at historically high levels in 2004, with the number of job ads in the ACT for February reaching a series record. Trend ANZ job ads grew 9.6 per cent for the year ending May 2004, compared to national growth of 1.6 per cent for the same period. The strong growth in trend ANZ job ads suggests an optimistic outlook for ACT employment.

ACT Treasury maintains its own account of job advertisements by industry, which corresponds with movements in the ANZ job ads series. The ACT Treasury series show that there has been strong growth in job ads over the past year in the administration/clerical sector, the services sector and the retail sector. All labour market indicators point to a very healthy ACT labour market and to strong levels of recruitment demand among employers. Trend employment in the ACT has reflected the strong growth in ANZ job ads, albeit to a lesser extent, with trend employment rising for the nine months to April 2004 and remaining steady in May. The trend number of unemployed in May 2004 was at its equal lowest level since November 1986. The trend unemployment rate of 3.6 per cent in May is the lowest on record and is 2.0 percentage points below the national unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent. The trend participation rate is at a 14-month high at 71.9 per cent and is 8.2 percentage points above the national participation rate of 63.7 per cent.

While the Hudson Report and the ANZ job ads series highlight the growing demand within the ACT labour market, there are indications that employers are having difficulties filling some vacancies being advertised. This is highlighted by the difference between the level of growth in ANZ job ads and overall growth in employment. With a buoyant labour market nationally and anecdotal evidence of skill shortages emerging across the country, ACT employers may continue to find it difficult to source labour locally or to attract skilled candidates from interstate. Opportunities for ACT workers, indeed for workers throughout the region, have never been so good. I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (11.07): I welcome the motion today from Mr Hargreaves because it is an important issue, but I think it is rather pathetic that we have a motion on the ACT economy that basically deals with only one parameter-employment expectation and expectations from industry. One would normally expect such a motion to cover broader consideration of the outlook of which employment expectations would be just one component. I am reminded of that old saying "One cuckoo does not make a summer" and I guess, in this case, neither does it make a political party.

Equally, the figures have to be taken in context. One quarter's results do not make a boom-quite the contrary. It is extremely dangerous to base an argument on the results

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