Thursday, October 08, 2009

Unemployment rate records small drop

This compares with 10% unemployment in the USA. After many years of conservative government economic policy, the Australian economy was well positioned to withstand shocks. Rudd had been in power for only around a year when the shocks hit and he had implemented little in the way of new policy. Yet the Australian unemployment rate remained low throughout

The Australian unemployment rate has unexpectedly dipped to 5.7 per cent in September. Unemployment had remained at 5.8 per cent for the previous three months, despite the loss of 27,100 jobs in August. The official employment survey shows 40,600 more jobs were created in September, with 35,400 of those being full-time positions.

The result was much better than the average economists' expectations of 10,000 jobs being lost for an unemployment rate of 6 per cent.

The result goes some way to vindicating the Reserve Bank's surprise decision to raise interest rates on Tuesday, at least a month ahead of when most economists thought it would move.

JP Morgan's chief economist, Stephen Walters, was one of the very few economists who predicted the RBA's rate hike, and says more figures like these will see further rises coming sooner rather than later. "It's a strong message, if you believe the numbers, that our economy is substantially outperforming the rest of the world," he told Reuters. "After this, I think the chance of a November move has gone up a lot, although there is still a lot of water under the bridge. For example, next week's consumer confidence will likely take a hit from Tuesday's rate hike. I see rates at 4 percent by Q1 [the first quarter of] next year."

Ben Potter, a research analyst with IG Markets, says today's numbers could even mark the peak of unemployment. "It's pretty obvious the RBA had an advanced read on today's employment numbers and can now more easily justify the reason they pulled the rates trigger," he wrote in an emailed note on the data. "The creation of 40,000 jobs against forecast losses of 10,000, and the unemployment rate falling to 5.7 per cent, would certainly seem to suggest we have seen peak unemployment, particularly given the positive reads from recent forward looking indicators."

The participation rate also recovered from a drop last month, when people giving up looking for work was the main reason the unemployment rate remained stable despite a substantial loss of jobs. Stephen Walters says this is a good sign that there is a genuine recovery building in the employment market. "It was a very, very strong number. Most of the increase was in full-time, and interestingly, unemployment went down even though more people entered the workforce."


Claim: Schools 'too focused' on literacy, numeracy

Some incredibly confused nonsense below. They identify people skills and technology skills as of first importance but how are you going to do any of that if you can't read and can't handle numbers? They seem to want kids to run before they can crawl. Sounds like more ivory-tower academic Leftism to me. They appear to be totally unaware of how bad literacy and numeracy skills among young people have become. More confusion: "system is too focussed on .. computing" yet "technology skills is a terrific first focus". These people are perilously close to brain death. Moonshine from Ms Moon, it would seem

New research says Australian schools are failing to properly prepare students for employment. The report by the Centre for Skills Development says the education system is too focussed on basics like literacy, numeracy and computing, neglecting more complex things such as teamwork and emotional intelligence.

Sheryle Moon, the co-author of the report, says young people need more complex skills for the modern workforce. "We live in a globalised world where people need a different set of skills than they needed in the 1970s or the 1980s," Ms Moon said. "It's less about task focus, or hand skills, it's more about brain skills and how you interact with other people.

"Ensuring that people have the technology skills is a terrific first focus. The thing that's missing in the revolution is how you incorporate modern technology applications into the curriculum."


Farmers dispute animal methane measure

Hopefully the research triggered by this nonsense will produce some useful basic knowledge

CLAIMS that cattle and sheep are responsible for 10.9 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions have been called into question after scientists discovered considerable variation in the amount of methane produced by individual animals.

Farmers, fearful of the costs greenhouse gas emissions trading will impose on their businesses, are demanding more accurate measurement of emissions before the ETS is brought in. Beverley Henry, manager for environment, sustainability and climate change with Meat & Livestock Australia, said current estimates were based on livestock overseas, with the actual emissions likely to vary depending on diet and animal type, as well as other factors. "At the moment, we don't reflect those in Australia's national accounts very well," Dr Henry said. "We need to get better quantification of the emissions as well as an understanding of how much mitigation is possible."

Australia boasts 26.81 million head of beef and dairy cattle, and 69.2 million sheep, so even a small error would quickly compound in any attempt to measure the total greenhouse gas expelled by the animals. Earlier this year, the Department of Agriculture put $11.25million into programs to reduce methane from livestock.

Cattle and sheep are ruminants. They possess a special stomach, a rumen, in which microbes ferment grass and cellulose that is otherwise indigestible. The fermentation produces methane, a greenhouse gas about 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide, which the animals burp out.

Dr Henry said scientists were looking at everything from the microbes -- how they are influenced by diet and supplements -- to the whole farm system. Already, there were improvements in efficiency. "We are now producing less methane per kilogram of beef than what was occurring in 1990," she said.

Some small-scale work five years ago revealed big differences in how much methane individual cattle produce. Kath Donoghue, from Industry & Investment NSW, said they found roughly a 20-30 per cent difference in emissions between the high groups and the low groups. "It depended on the diet, there are a greater magnitude of difference on different diets," shesaid. She plans to measure the emissions from more than 1000 Angus cattle, the dominant southern breed, to see if there were genetic differences in emissions.

Dr Donoghue said that while some supplements, such as cotton seed oil and palm oil, had reduced methane emissions, they were not practical in Australia's large-scale northern cattle industry. "The thing about genetics is it is applicable in both intensive and extensive areas and it is a known technology," she said.

A lot of work would focus on the microbes in the rumen. "If we are identifying high- and low-emission animals, we can send rumen samples to the labs and they can say what is different in the rumen of these two animals and what is causing this to happen."

The CSIRO is also working on a system that will use electronic gas sensor technology "to accurately identify, develop and/or adapt a method for measuring emissions" from large numbers of animals.

An earlier study by University of Melbourne researchers found methane emissions varied from 146g an animal a day in a Victorian feedlot to 166g an animal a day in Queensland.


Yet another reason not to fly Qantas

Man dies on 'unbearably hot' flight after plane takes off with no air-conditioning. The plane was clearly faulty and should never have taken off

PASSENGERS on a Qantas-affiliated flight are outraged after an Australian man died shortly after the air conditioning failed and temperatures soared above 35C. The Western Australia man, aged 85, passed away after suffering what was thought to be a heart attack or stroke on board the Air France/Qantas flight from Paris to Singapore last night.

Other passengers were furious the Boeing 777 departed in the first place given the fact the air conditioning wasn't working. Melbourne lawyer Ian Dunn, who was on holiday with his wife, said the pilot tried to start the plane three times in Paris. ”The really awful thing was that it is quite possible that the heat on the plane when we first got on – which probably lasted about an hour and a half – may well have had some impact on this man dying,” he said. ”

I don't think the plane should have gone. ”The plane shouldn't have been as hot as it was. ”We were leaving from 11.30pm in Paris and it was about 15C outside but the temperature in the plane was over 30C when we got on. ”Later in the day a guy with a thermometer recorded it as over 35C.”

The deceased man was believed to be travelling with two other people.

Mr Dunn, who was sitting a few rows behind, said the first he knew of any incident was when an announcement was made asking if there was a doctor on board and several people came forward. The plane made an emergency landing in Bucharest, Romania, but the man died before or shortly after it landed.

Other passengers were left on the flight for more than five hours without air conditioning before returning to Paris, where they started the journey again 15 hours later. Mr Dunn said the pilot again struggled to start the plane. ”It happened to be handled by Air France as part of its relationship with other airlines but we'd booked the bloody thing through Qantas.”

Mr Dunn was supposed to be back at work today (Thursday) but instead had to spend another night in Paris, before flying home to Melbourne via Hong Kong. ”They brought us back today from Bucharest to Paris, the people who are going to Sydney are now leaving on a flight that gets them as far as Singapore,” he said. ”There was a hell of a fuss when they were told they would be waiting for seats to become available on any Qantas flight and the flights are all full.”

A Qantas spokeswoman said the customer who passed away had booked through Air France and it was unable to disclose his nationality for privacy reasons. She said there were 46 Qantas CodeShare passengers on the flight who were now on their way back home. ”It's an Air France flight so it's not a Qantas operated flight,” she said. ”We have sold some seats on it for our customers but it's an Air France flight and an Air France aircraft.”


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