Queensland geoscientists defy national jobs plunge

Queensland has bucked the trend in jobs as the latest Australian Institute of Geoscientists survey shows a deterioration in employment nationwide in the first three months of 2020.

Unemployment among Australia’s geoscientists increased to 10 per cent at the end of March, compared to 7.3 per cent at the end of the 2019 December quarter.

Under-employment among self-employed geoscientists increased from 13.1 per cent to 18.1 per cent for the same period.

But the impact was not even across the states – with unemployment rates in Queensland changing little in the measured period.

The Queensland unemployment figure in the most recent survey stood at 5.6 per cent, while the underemployment rate amongst self employed geoscientists in Queensland was 19.6 per cent (defined as obtaining less than 25 per cent of desired workload).

“In one sense, the survey results are reassuring in the initial impact on employment of the coronavirus being more muted than many geoscience professionals feared,” Australian Institute of Geoscientists president Andrew Waltho said.

“The situation, however, has some way to run and AIG will now be looking to the June survey to demonstrate how Australia’s minerals and energy exploration and mining industry is coping with the impacts of the pandemic.”

Mr Waltho believed Queensland’s unemployment rate had been fairly stable due to the fact that many of the geologist working in the state’s resources sector lived within Queensland, avoiding COVID-19 border restrictions.

The dominance of the coal and coal seam gas industries in this state and their ongoing strength also helped, he said.

“But I generally get the impression that there’s more happening here than in a number of the other states,” he said.

The contributions of mineral resource exploration, mining and energy resource exploration and production vary markedly between states.

Long-term unemployment remains the darkest aspect of the survey results with almost 29 per cent of survey respondents reporting that they had been out of work for more than 12 months.

Six percent of respondents were looking to pursue careers beyond geosciences on a long-term basis. A further 12 per cent were seeking work to help them deal with current employment conditions affecting geosciences in Australia.

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