20 Feb 2012

Questions over strength of Australian economy

7:27 am on 20 February 2012

A series of job losses in the airline, steelmaking, motor vehicle and banking industries has raised questions about the strength of the Australian economy.

Several major companies have announced layoffs in the past weeks as they battle the combined effect of a strong Australian dollar, slowing domestic demand and uncertain international conditions.

Qantas announced on Thursday it is cutting 500 jobs, the Australian divisions of carmakers Toyota and General Motors are reducing numbers and about 1500 positions are going from ANZ and Westpac banks.

A correspondent in Sydney for Radio New Zealand says this is in contrast to supercharged resource sector, where many projects are in the pipeline.

Overall, economic data suggests the labour market is not that bleak.

The official labour force report for January showed a big bounce in employment from December's weak result.

Payrolls rose by 46,300 after a decline of 35,600 in December and unemployment unexpectedly fell to 5.1% from 5.2%.