Unemployment rate rises in July

Employment is still around 387,000 people higher than last July, data shows

Unemployment rate rises in July


By Ryan Johnson

Australia’s unemployment rate has risen to 3.7% for July up from 3.5% in June, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

While the data showed 36,000 were unemployed compared to 15,000 that were employed in the month of July, overall employment is still around 387,000 people higher than this time last year.

Bjorn Jarvis (pictured above), ABS head of labour statistics, said the fall in employment follows an average monthly increase of around 42,000 people during the first half of this year.

“July includes the school holidays, and we continue to see some changes around when people take their leave and start or leave a job. It’s important to consider this when looking at month-to-month changes, compared with the usual seasonal pattern,” Jarvis said. 

“The only other fall in employment in 2023 was in April, which also included school holidays.”

While unemployment increased by 36,000 people in July, to 541,000, it was still around 172,000 lower than before the pandemic.

The employment-to-population ratio fell 0.2 percentage points to 64.%. The participation rate also decreased 0.1 percentage point to 66.7%.

“Despite these falls, both indicators were still well above pre-pandemic levels and close to their historical highs in May,” Jarvis said.

Employment and hours worked

The ABS data confirmed that monthly hours worked increased 0.2% in July 2023, while employment decreased 0.1%. Some of the increase in hours worked reflected fewer people than usual taking leave during the school holidays.

“The strength in hours worked shows that it continues to be a tight labour market. Hours worked were 5.2% higher than in July 2022, well above the 2.8% increase in employment,” Jarvis said.

“The strength in hours worked over the past year, relative to employment growth, shows the demand for labour is continuing to be met, to some extent, by people working more hours.”

Consistent with the growth in hours worked, there were 386,000 more full-time workers than in July 2022. In contrast, part-time employment only increased by 1,000 people.”

Underemployment and underutilisation

The underemployment rate remained at 6.4% in July, around 2.4 percentage points lower than before the pandemic.

The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, rose 0.2 percentage points to 10.1%. This was 3.9 percentage points lower than March 2020.

Underlying trend data

The trend unemployment rate remains at 3.6%, in line with the updated figure for June.

Employment grew by 27,000 (0.2%) and hours worked increased 0.3% in July.

The employment-to-population ratio remained high at 64.4%, in line with the updated figure for June.

“Hours worked has consistently grown faster than employment over the past 12 months,” Jarvis said.

In terms of other underlying data, the participation rate remains high at 66.8% while underemployment remained at 6.4%.

“In trend terms, all key indicators still point to a tight labour market," Jarvis said.

What do you think of the latest unemployment figures?

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