Women making up ground fast in pay rates, employment growth

WOMEN have made impressive gains in Queensland’s job market, almost doubling growth rates in pay and jobs in the past five years and narrowing the gap to male workers, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Feb 21, 2020, updated Feb 24, 2020


Economists attribute the growth to the dramatic change in the state’s job market in recent years.

This includes the dominance of the health sector which is now the state’s biggest employer and a sector where women have a stronger presence.

But the data also paints a troubling picture for the Palaszczuk Government because the traditional male industries, like manufacturing, are in decline.

Adding to that headache is the fact that Queensland also holds the worst unemployment in the country in an election year.

While the growth in jobs and pay for Queensland women have been strong they remain well behind, but the wages gap has narrowed to $85 a week from $145 on average from five years ago.

Closing the gap has been made more difficult by women traditionally wanting more flexible hours and because they often are employed in low-wage sectors.

The data also showed Queensland’s overall unemployment remained at 6.1 per cent on trend figures (6.3 per cent seasonally adjusted) compared with 6.6 per cent five years ago.

Queensland added an extra 4700 jobs in January, a strong performance on a national basis.

But overall the nation’s job queue increased, adding pressure on the Reserve Bank to lower interest rates.

Employment Minister Shannon Fentiman said the growth in female participation and women in jobs was a great sign and reinforced the Palaszczuk Government’s resolve to raise female participation in all industries across Queensland.

“In 2015, we made a considered, deliberate decision to ensure all Queensland Government bodies achieved gender equity targets by 2020. We achieved this in October 2019.  We have challenged the private sector to match this,” she said.

“This isn’t tokenism; we understand that without the right leadership at the top, changing what happens on the ground is made that much more challenging. We want more women in more industries and for that to happen, we need to ensure that the right voices are advocating for this shift.”

She said in there had also been growth in training and apprenticeships. Females represented 14.3 per cent of all apprenticeships in 2015-16 and that has grown to 17.8 per cent. Females represent over half of the apprentices in industries such as childcare, retail and racing, while in training, there are more women than men in community services, health, hospitality, sports and recreation, and tourism.

“Women are starting to make inroads in many formerly male-dominated workplaces now prioritising female recruitment, but we still have a way to go to get more women in front line construction roles,” Fentiman said.




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