The Australian unemployment rate has hit a 12-year high at 6.4% – the highest since 2002 and higher than the US unemployment rate for the first time since 2007. Good market for equities markets this means the RBA will almost certainly not increase interest rates any time soon and may cut them further. Of course disastrous for people such as myself who will probably soon be on the job market. While the Treasurer has argued that these figures provide motivation to pass the budget – they do no such thing – the obvious candidate for policy is our immigration intake.
Currently Australia is taking in net 240,000 immigrants annually – it adds nearly a million people to our population every 4 years. 709,000 immigrants have arrived since the beginning of 2011 and 380,000 of these have got jobs. During that period 400,000 jobs were created net.
There are Ripley Believe-it-or-not economic theories (often propounded by ANU economists) that these immigrants create jobs by adding more to aggregate demand than supply but this clearly is not the case at present. What can be expected is that as unemployment increases the demand for immigration will weaken a little.
As much as I am concerned about the current unemployed I am even more concerned by forecasts that, at this rate, Australia’s population will be 40 million by 2060 and 50 million by 2100. Sydney’s population will grow 80% and Melbourne’s population will double by 2060. Do Australians really want to live in mega-cities
It is almost politically incorrect among the latte left to criticize anything relating to unrestrained high immigration but I do. The implications of high rates of immigration for the economy are modestly positive at best. With high international capital mobility most of the labour market benefits from a liberal migration program accrue to the migrants not to resident Australians. Economies of scale arguments are irrelevant in an economy that trades with the world. At the same time we must put up with more crowded cities and less people-free, biodiversity-rich landscapes.
I’d prefer a migration policy that stabilises the Australian population at something less than 30 million. I am selfish enough to prefer living in open, low density landscapes where nature is not extinguished.