10/03/2022 - 00:30

Borders open but jobs boom to go on

10/03/2022 - 00:30

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The state’s jobless rate will stay below 4 per cent until at least 2024, CCIWA predicts.

Borders open but jobs boom to go on
Business investment will boost the local economy. Photo: Matt Mckenzie

The state’s jobless rate will stay below 4 per cent until at least 2024, CCIWA predicts.

Almost 80 per cent of businesses were struggling to fill a skilled role in December 2021, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA said in its latest outlook report.

That compares to 54 per cent in March 2021.

The state’s economy is expected to be boosted by business investment, which will rise nearly 8 per cent in the 2023 financial year.

The lift is driven by projects such as Woodside Petroleum’s Scarborough development.

Gross State Product will grow 2 per cent in the year to June 2023, CCI predicts.

The labour market will be hot, with unemployment to average below 4 per cent for the 2022, 2023 and 2024 financial years.

While the chamber has supported reopening the state’s borders, the report also shows it will not be enough to fix the skills shortage.

Net overseas migration is likely to remain below pre-COVID levels, the report said, because of an anticipated outflow of young, skilled Western Australians.

That will partly offset the lift from long term migrants and international students reentering the state, CCI said.

“History has shown that when there’s an abundance of stable, well-paying jobs in WA, inbound migration levels lift,” the report said. 

“And with a backdrop of strong business investment, solid household consumption and an anticipated ramp up of the state government’s asset investment program, demand for WA based workers is expected to remain strong.”

While the historical example of the last mining boom showed significant migration into WA to fill jobs, the state will have a further challenge this time around: skills shortages elsewhere in the world, which were not present after the Global Financial Crisis.

CCI chief economist Aaron Morey said despite the optimistic outlook, omicron may bring the toughest phase of the pandemic for many businesses, with potentially higher interest rates also a risk.

The state needs a bold vision to prepare for when commodity markets turn, he said.

“We should reform the inefficient taxes constraining our dynamism and diversification, like payroll tax and stamp duty,” Mr Morey said. 

“Greater workforce participation could be achieved by reducing disincentives to working parents, particularly mothers. 

"And we must seriously invest to rebuild our reputation as a welcoming place to study, travel, invest and do business.”

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