Australia's economy has taken the carbon tax in its stride. Prices did not soar as the Opposition had forecast, and now the Bureau of Statistics tells us jobs kept growing slowly but steadily in July, as if nothing had happened.
On the seasonally adjusted figures, Australia added 14,000 jobs in July, 9200 of them full-time. Unemployment edged down from 5.3 to 5.2 per cent. Almost half the new jobs were in Queensland.
Admittedly, that came after the June figures showed an unexpected 28,000 fall in jobs; but that in turn came after three months of exceptionally good figures.
Averaging it all out, the Bureau's trend figure estimates that employment growth is slowing, up just 24,000 in the past three months, and only 3000 of those full-time. That's the measure the Bureau wants us to focus on, and it's probably the best guide to what's really happening out there.
While we love patting our own backs and awarding ourselves gold medals for our economic performance, there is plenty of evidence from the data and business surveys that while the outback mines are booming, the south-eastern states are experiencing heavy weather.
The forward indicators for employment are sending warning signals. The Bureau's measure of job vacancies shrank by 15,000 in the 15 months to May. More than half the decline was in Victoria, and most of it was in white-collar jobs: in professional offices, administration and health care.
The ANZ job advertisements tell a similar story. The number of job ads, online and in newspapers, shrank by 1800 in July and by 18,500 or 10 per cent since February 2011. Again, Victoria bore the brunt of the damage.
The Bureau's state figures run the gamut from very good to very bad. WA is way out in front of any other state, adding 50,000 full-time jobs in the past year, and cutting trend unemployment to 3.6 per cent. The silver medallist, a long way back, is NSW. It added 20,000 full-time jobs in the year to July, trimming unemployment to 5.1 per cent.
But on the Bureau's figures, Queensland added just 4000 full-time jobs in the year while losing 10,000 part-time jobs. Its unemployment rate however stayed at 5.6 per cent, because those without jobs dropped out rather than looking for work.
Victoria too had contradictory figures: full-time jobs down 23,000 in the year, but part-time jobs up 42,000. The state's unemployment rate climbed to 5.4 per cent, though it fell a notch in July.
For South Australia and Tasmania, however, the figures are unambiguously bad. South Australia lost 18,000 full-time jobs in the past year, or one in 30, with unemployment up to 5.7 per cent. On the Bureau's figures, it has fewer full-time jobs now than it had before the GFC.
Tasmania is in even more dire straits, losing 6800 full-time jobs in the past year, or one in every 23. It not only has fewer full-time jobs now than in 2008, it has fewer than it had in 1988, in part due to the state government's stringent spending cuts.
While Tasmania's unemployment rate edged down from 7.2 per cent in April to 6.9 per cent in July, that was mostly because many of its unemployed gave up looking for work.
Those figures probably paint too bleak a picture. For technical reasons, the Bureau has deliberately underestimated the growth in the workforce over 2011-12 to make up for earlier overestimates. But that in turn means it has underestimated jobs growth.
While its seasonally adjusted figures show total employment up 66,000 in the past year, it thinks the true number is more like 100,000. But with the working age population up by more than 250,000, new jobs are not being created fast enough to replace those being lost and employ a fast-growing population.
One key question is why such a huge mining boom — the biggest we have ever experienced — has generated so little net growth in jobs outside WA.