1367.5 - Western Australian Statistical Indicators, Mar 2006  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/04/2006   
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April 5, 2006
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Skills shortages impact on the WA economy: ABS

The skills shortage in Western Australia was a significant contributor to the fall in the state's economic growth from 8% in 2003-04, to 3% in 2004-05 at the height of the shortage.

The impact of the skills shortage influenced a deceleration in business investment growth (from 28% in 2003-04 to 11%), and an increase in wages and consumer prices.

With skills shortages appearing to have constrained growth in the Western Australian economy, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a special article today examining the factors driving the state's skills shortage and the impact it has had on the economy, in the publication Western Australian Statistical Indicators.

The article explains there are three key reasons for the skill shortage:
  • There were less skilled workers available because of the rapid expansion of the state's resources sector. Since 2001-02, Western Australia's exports to China doubled to $6.5 billion in 2004-05. As a result, employment in the mining industry rose by close to a third (9,942 people or 31%) over the period.
  • In conjunction with resources sector growth, strong property market activity also triggered the demand for skilled workers in the industries of property and business services and construction. Employment rose by 19% (19,200 people) in the state's property and business services industry and by 16% (12,900 people) in the construction industry - the strongest rates of growth among the state's industries between 2001-02 and 2004-05.
  • Fewer skilled workers were available because of reduced participation in education and training (course enrolments fell by 8,900 people from May 2002 to May 2005). Other contributing factors include a slowing in population growth and an ageing of the labour force.

The March 2006 issue of Western Australian Statistical Indicators also includes a feature article on recent expenditure patterns of Western Australian households.

Western Australian Statistical Indicators (cat. no. 1367.5) also contains a range of other information on the state's economy.