The Australian Council of Trade Unions has released a major policy paper outlining an ambitious, multi-faceted program to address the chronic shortage of work, and the steady erosion of job quality, in Australia. The full paper, Jobs You Can Count On, is available on the ACTU's website. It contains specific proposals to stimulate much stronger job-creation, reduce unemployment and underemployment, improve job quality (including through repairs to Australia's industrial relations system), and ensure that all communities (including traditionally marginalised populations like indigenous peoples, women, youth, and people with disability) have full access to the decent work opportunities that the plan would generate.
Dr. Jim Stanford, Director of the Centre for Future Work, reviewed the ACTU's paper in detail, and prepared an evaluation of its proposals and likely effects. Stanford endorsed the policy's complementary set of expansionary macroeconomic measures, which would strengthen every major component of aggregate demand in the national economy: including government programs, capital investment, net exports, and consumer spending. He also emphasised the importance of the paper's vision for a stronger labour market information and planning system, which will be essential to effectively match workers with jobs as the labour market tightens.
Stanford estimated that the ACTU's plan, if implemented consistently over a five-year period, would be capable of achieving the following outcomes:
- Unemployment rate falling to 4 percent or lower.
- Share of full-time work rebounding toward 75 percent of employment (since employers will be pressured by falling unemployment to create full-time jobs).
- Underemployment rate falling to fall to 5 percent or lower.
- Incidence of casual work declining below 20 percent.
- Labour force participation rising by at least 2 percentage points, especially among young workers.
- Nominal wage growth accelerating to traditional rates of 4 percent per year.
Dr. Stanford's full assessment of the ACTU plan is available here. The complete ACTU paper, Jobs You Can Count On, can be downloaded here.