What does Newman’s promise of 209,000 extra jobs actually mean?

Jobs and the economy are key issues in the Queensland election.

Queensland currently had an unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent, the equal highest rate in Australia, although that rate has today come down to 6.2 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis, now equal to the median.

Qld Premier Campbell Newman recently promised that “more than 209,000 jobs would be created in Queensland over the next six years.”

The LNP had earlier recommitted to an unemployment target of 4 per cent at the end of a second term in power.

What do all of these commitments actually mean, and where do they come from?

Let’s unpack the numbers.  According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as at November 2014 there were 2.3 million Queenslanders with jobs, in a labour force of about 2.5 million.

The Qld Government’s recent Budget projected employment growth of 1.5 per cent per year, which is around 2900 jobs per month.

But that is a very weak rate of employment growth.  Since the labour force is increasing more rapidly than that, if this rate of jobs growth was to continue for the next six years, Qld would have an unemployment rate approaching double figures.

The Premier’s promise of 209,000 jobs over the six years between November 2014 and November 2020 therefore represents a commitment to an additional 2900 jobs per month.

That gives total employment growth of 5,800 per month, which gets us to total employment of 2.74 million by November 2020.

If we assume that the participation rate (the share of the population either in work or looking for work) remains unchanged at its current rate of 65.3 per cent, and that Qld’s civilian population grows at an annual rate of 2.25 per cent over the next six years, then Premier Newman’s recent jobs promise magically produces an unemployment rate of…4 per cent!

So this is how the 209,000 figure appears to have been derived.

Whether that kind of jobs growth is achievable – and whether the LNP or the ALP have the policies to achieve it – is the real issue.

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