The Straits Times
Published on Sep 13, 2012

Australian mining employment falls for 1st time in 3 years


SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Employment in Australia's mining industry has fallen for the first time in three years, in what could be an early sign that a major engine of jobs growth is losing steam.

Government data out on Thursday that covers the three months to August showed jobs in the mining sector fell by a net 4,600, following an increase of 25,500 in the three months to May.

Total employment in the industry was still up 44,600 on the same period last year, but it was the first quarterly drop since mid-2009 and comes amid news of more layoffs by miners facing weak prices and high costs.

Any pullback in mining would be a blow to the economy as it has been a big generator of jobs in recent years. While the industry's workforce of 270,600 is barely more than 2 per cent of the country's 11.5 million employed, it has been growing rapidly.