A sign of the times

BELIEVE it or not, a spate of redundancies from a number of WA companies could be the harbinger of an economic recovery.

Online stockbroker Sanford Limited, AlintaGas, Norgard Clohessy Equity and, most recently, Anaconda Nickel have announced moves to lay off a number of staff.

In isolation these redundancies mean little more than the companies positioning themselves to boost their profits.

But most economists believe job losses are a lagging indicator of economic strength.

They believe that, by the time the unemployment numbers start going up, the economic cycle is either close to its trough or starting to head upwards.

Unemployment figures released last week were still pretty grim, despite the national unemployment rate staying at 6.9 per cent.

Sanford CEO Steven Goh said the company had undergone a restructuring to make it profitable in 2002-03.

That restructuring had required a “substantial” staff cuts and would allow Sanford to concentrate on share trading.

Mr Goh said the redundant staff had been largely involved with the development of Sanford’s technology delivery platforms.

Norgard Clohessy shed its nine-strong marketing arm following a sharp downturn in the mass marketed tax-effective scheme market in July.

Norgard’s Ken Richards said the company was concentrating its efforts on the recently acquired Arthur Yates and Co, which he believes will give the company a far better return.

Anaconda’s 60 redundancies were spread across its head office and Murrin Murrin workforce.

Anaconda CEO Andrew Forrest said the Murrin Murrin operations had reached a level of stability that no longer warranted additional human resources.

The company expects the redund-ancies will reduce its operating costs by about $16 million.

University of WA economics department head Ken Clements believes unemployment will rise further but that there is hope on the horizon for WA.

“There are uncertainties about where the national economy is going. It’s still growing but the growth rate has been declining since 2000,” Professor Clements said.

“The indicators are mixed. Unemployment is not great but retail figures are looking up.

“In WA the economy seems to be driven by big projects such as the fourth Liquefied Natural Gas train coming online.

“But layered on top of that is the effects of the national economy.”

Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist Nicky Cusworth said she was viewing the unemployment figures as a sign the cyclical downturn was coming to an end.

Add your comment

BNIQ sponsored byECU School of Business and Law


6th-Australian Institute of Management WA20,000
7th-Murdoch University16,584
8th-South Regional TAFE10,549
9th-Central Regional TAFE10,000
10th-The University of Notre Dame Australia6,708
47 tertiary education & training providers ranked by total number of students in WA

Number of Employees

BNiQ Disclaimer