Australia’s surprisingly secure workers, part 4

Another Roy Morgan job security survey is out today, and yet again they fail to find the job insecurity the unions would have us believe WorkChoices is causing.

According to the ACTU in March 2007:

Job security for Australian workers has been eroded – with 3,761,000 Australian workers employed in businesses with less than 100 staff having lost any protection from being unfairly dismissed.

That’s about 35% of all workers at increased risk of being ‘unfairly dismissed’. Yet by how much has the proportion of people feeling their jobs are safe gone down? One percentage point over the last year, and three percentage points since WorkChoices was introduced, to 80% of all workers believing that their present job is safe. Perhaps there is a very small WorkChoices effect there, but that 80% is higher than it was between 1999 and 2004.

Another question asks whether, if the respondent became unemployed, he or she could find another job fairly quickly. 72% of respondents thought they could find another job fairly quickly – the highest figure since Morgan started asking the question in 1975, when 57% of respondents thought that they could find a job fairly quickly. The lowest ever result was 38% in 1992.

The two questions highlight a difference between job security and employment security. All other things being equal, a highly-regulated labour market makes it less likely that someone will be dismissed from the particular job they have now. So it increases job security. But all other things being equal, a highly-regulated labour market will also make it less likely that employers will take on new staff. So this lessens employment security, the confidence workers have that they will have a job, even if not necessarily the job they have now.

But the job security statistics suggest that employment laws are not the major influence on either job or employment security. Commercial considerations are the biggest factor, and relationships within the workplace probably the next most important.