Bennelong, where jobs prove the stimulus is working
What a huge news week it was last week. Sabi the dog came home. Tiger Woods fever gripped the country, and like Ol’ Man River our Australian economy keeps just keep rolling along.
With apologies to Tiger I know we’re not out of the woods yet and nobody’s taking the hands off the wheel, but it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on our achievement as a nation.
Last week’s jobs figures came in at 5.8%. 670,000 unemployed Australians is too many and we expect that unemployment will continue to rise in the coming months. But the community resilience in the face of this threat has been fantastic.
I see it every day in Bennelong. Employers have kept their nerve and unemployment in northern Sydney is at 2.6%. The stimulus has been a critical factor.
Quite unsolicited, one woman in my electorate approached me recently and said:
“I’ve now got a job because of the stimulus. It’s hard when you’re in your fifties and trying to re-connect to the labour market, but I’ve now got project planning work with a local construction company.”
The boys at Bovis Lend Lease understand this. They’re project managing schools work in my area as part of the Primary Schools for the 21st Century component Building the Education Revolution. In all, the school modernisation program is supporting about 2400 construction jobs across the Northern Sydney region.
In fact it’s construction city in my neck of the woods.
Macquarie University is building a new School of Advanced Medicine and many other facilities. Stockland has just opened up a multi-business campus at North Ryde. Willoughby Council is mid way through building a new $165 million conference and performing arts centre.
Then there’s phase one of the new Top Ryde shopping and residential precinct. Just over a week ago I opened the new Woolies there. The buzz in the store was palpable. 200 staff were rearing to go for their first day of the job. I was almost bowled over by first day shoppers as I cut the ribbon.
It was great to be there, but what really brought it home for me was when the Area Manager told me there had been 8000 applications for the jobs. That’s a lot of people looking for work or extra hours, but in the face of the worst global recession in three-quarters of a century, our economy has managed to keep creating new jobs.
There are many factors involved in our success, like our regulatory system, and our place in the Asian region, but our decisive action on stimulus has been absolutely crucial.
Contrast this with what we see across the pond on the other side of the Pacific. In the United States unemployment is now 10.2%. US economists expect it to reach 10.5% before it starts subsiding mid next year when their stimulus is expected to kick in.
The website RealtyTrac estimates there have been more than 300,000 foreclosure notices a month in the US for the last eight months. In the worst-effected state Nevada that’s one in every 80 properties.
Despite growth of 3.5 % percent in the third quarter, Federal Reserve officials say they’re expecting “a tepid recovery” with “sluggish consumer spending” caused by “high unemployment, weak job growth and paltry wage increases.”
Those who advocate the premature withdrawal of the economic stimulus should take a good hard look at the US. As John Laws used to say - when you’re on a good thing, stick to it.
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