By Kevin Morrison
February 1, 2021 - Employment in Australia's resources sector during September-November last year rose to the highest level in seven years, with coal employment at its highest and record iron ore exports supporting the industry.
A total of 264,000 people were employed in the resources sector at the end of November, up from a revised 240,610 at the end of August and above the 251,940 for the same period in 2019. It was the highest level since the 267,100 at the end of November 2013, according to quarterly labour force data released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Employment in the Australian coal sector rose to 62,000 workers at the end of November, up by 25pc from 49,600 at the end of August and the 50,500 employed at the end of November 2019.
Australia is the world's largest exporter of hard coking coal and the second-largest thermal coal exporter. Most of the coking coal is shipped from ports in Queensland state, while most of the thermal coal is shipped through Newcastle port in New South Wales.
The majority of the sector's employees work in the metal ore industry, which is mainly iron ore, as Australia is the world's largest exporter of the steel feedstock. A total of 101,000 people was employed at the end of November, which was down on 105,900 at the end of August and 109,600 at the end of November 2019.
Australia's mining sector employs a relatively low number of people given that it accounts for more than half of the country's merchandise exports and about 9pc of Australia's gross domestic product. Mining employment peaked at 274,200 in March-May 2012. The resources sector accounted for 2.05pc of Australia's total workforce of 12.91mn at the end of November and was the highest share of total employment since the 2.23pc in March-May 2014.
The increase in the resource sector's share of total employment in Australia partly reflected the fall in total employment from 13.05mn in December 2019-February 2020 because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on economic activity, although Australia's mineral and energy exports have held up relatively firm during the pandemic.