Roy Morgan reports a static 'real' unemployment rate in January

This despite a surge in employment

Roy Morgan reports a static 'real' unemployment rate in January


By Mina Martin

According to Roy Morgan’s latest employment estimates, January 2024 saw Australia's “real” unemployment rate remain virtually unchanged at 1,382,000 individuals, accounting for 8.9% of the workforce.

Additionally, under-employment affected 1,618,000 people, or 10.4% of the workforce, bringing the total number of Australians either unemployed or under-employed to an alarming 3 million, or 19.3%.

This persistent high rate of unemployment and under-employment comes amid the largest annual employment surge since the COVID-19 pandemic's conclusion, with 732,000 jobs added over the last year, elevating the total employment to 14,150,000. Despite this growth, full-time positions have declined, offset by an increase in part-time employment.

Roy Morgan’s January findings, derived from surveys across a national cross-section of people aged 14 and above, underscore the enduring challenges within the Australian labor market. The workforce grew to over 15.5 million, a significant increase from the previous year, driven by record-high population growth.

Michele Levine (pictured above), CEO of Roy Morgan, expressed concern over the sustained high level of labor under-utilisation, pointing out the discrepancy between the Roy Morgan unemployment figure of 8.9% and the ABS estimate of 3.9% for December.

“The sustained increase in labour-underutilisation in recent months shows that the labour market is struggling to provide the right jobs for all those joining the workforce,” Levine said. “Tackling this continuing high level of unemployment and under-employment must be the number-one priority for the federal government over the next year heading into the next election due in early 2025.”

The Roy Morgan report highlighted the impact of high population growth on the labour force, which has grown by a record 896,000 from a year ago, leading to increases in key labour force statistics. Employment growth has been primarily in part-time jobs, underscoring the market’s struggle to offer suitable employment for the growing workforce.

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