By George Megalogenis
July 06, 2009 12:00am
AUSTRALIAN-BORN workers have been shielded from the worst of the global recession, as employers have mainly restricted the economy-wide job losses to migrant workers.
Although unemployment is rising across the board as opportunities vanish, there is a clear divide emerging between the treatment of local and overseas-born workers, The Australian reports.
Australian-born workers dropped 22,000 full-time jobs in the 12 months to May but picked up an extra 74,500 part-time jobs for a net gain of 52,500 positions.
By contrast, migrant workers lost 37,100 full-time jobs, offset by 21,600 extra part-time jobs for a net loss of 15,500.
The detailed research by The Australian suggests employers have been laying off workers on a last-on, first-off basis.
This puts the migrants who claimed the majority of the jobs available at the top of the boom, when the economy faced acute skills shortages, in the employment firing line now.
In the early 1990s recession, non-English speakers were the most disadvantaged as blue-collar manufacturing jobs disappeared.
This time, New Zealand-born workers are the most likely to be retrenched, with 11,000 full-time jobs and a further 9800 part-time jobs shed in the 12 months to May, for a net loss of 20,800.
The Indian-born are faring much better, with 19,500 more full-time and 18,500 more part-time jobs.
This is a sign that shortages remain across significant pockets of the economy as the Indian migrants tend to have higher skills on average.
On the other hand, northeast-and southeast-Asian-born workers have lost their jobs in roughly the same numbers as the New Zealanders.
Overall, English-speaking migrants are down 11,600 jobs in net terms, while non-English speaking migrants have lost 4000 jobs.
Australia has defied the global recession som far, with unemployment at 5.7 per cent. More tellingly, the wider economy has yet to move into the red zone where a larger number of jobs are being lost than are created.