John Black has another piece in The Weekend Australian, which I read against my better judgement. His point seems to be that the federal Labor government sabotaged the labour market, and particularly that it worked against the interests of employees in traditional blue collar industries.

Here’s his main chart, which shows that three public sector-dominated service industries saw their employment share grow during the ALP’s reign, while three blue collar industries saw their combined employment share shrink:

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This is true, albeit selective – there are blue-collar industries that buck the trend (like mining and utilities) and white-collar industries that have shrunk, like media and communications. But I think it’s interesting to widen the lens a little and have a look at employment trends over the past three decades. The chart below shows exactly the same thing as John Black’s chart (above), but it starts in 1984 instead of November 2007:

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Source: Calculations based on ABS 6291.0.55.003, table 4.

The rise of employment in service industries relative to traditional blue collar industries is not a new phenomenon. It is not something that Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard conjured up. It is a long term trend, common to most advanced economies.

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