Significant improvement in employment prospects for geoscientists in Australia’s exploration and mining industry during the first quarter of 2017 is no longer evident, according to a survey by the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) for the quarter ending June 30. During the June quarter, geoscientist employment across Australia only improved marginally compared to the March quarter.

The AIG survey indicates that the unemployment rate amongst Australia’s geoscientists at June 30 was 11.3%. The corresponding underemployment rate was 19.0%. This represents a welcome but small decrease in unemployment, down from 12.1% at the end of March 2017, offset by an increase in the underemployment rate from 18.3%.

Australia’s self-employed geoscientists, independent contractors and consultants, continue to face difficult times with only half able to secure 25% of their desired workload.

The employment situation varies markedly between industry sectors. Unemployment in mineral and energy resource exploration was 14.2%, compared to 6.9% in mineral and energy resource mining and production. The unemployment rate amongst geoscientists working in other fields, such as environmental geoscience, groundwater resource management, engineering geology, education and agriculture, was 4.0%.

Unemployment and underemployment rates varied significantly between states. Unemployment was highest in Western Australia at 12.3%, the only state in which unemployment increased. South Australia recorded the lowest unemployment rate at 4.2% and the greatest improvement in the unemployment rate. Underemployment was lowest in Western Australia, highest in South Australia and worsened in every state except Western Australia and Queensland.

Long-term unemployment decreased but remains a serious concern, with more than 60% of unemployed and underemployed not confident of returning to work within the next 12 months. More than 13% of unemployed geoscientists regained employment during the quarter, but this was more than offset by those losing employment.

Sentiment amongst geoscientists in employment improved, with more than half indicating that they were confident of remaining in employment for the next 12 months or more. Almost 20% of unemployed and underemployed geoscientists indicated that they were seeking to leave their profession, up 4%.