Unemployment rises in Australia

March sees slight employment downturn

Unemployment rises in Australia


By Mina Martin

ABS has reported a modest increase in the unemployment rate to 3.8% in March.

In March, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by a slight 0.1 percentage point to reach 3.8%, with ABS noting a decrease in employment numbers.

“With employment falling by around 7,000 people and the number of unemployed rising by 21,000 people, the unemployment rate rose to 3.8%,” said Bjorn Jarvis (pictured above), head of labour statistics at the ABS, in a media release.

The change in employment figures followed a surge in February and a slowdown in the previous two months. The overall employment-to-population ratio also dipped by 0.2 percentage points to 64%, while the participation rate slightly decreased to 66.6%.

Labour Market Trends

Despite the downturn, the labour market remains robust compared to historical levels.

“The labour market remained relatively tight in March, with an employment-to-population ratio and participation rate still close to their record highs in November 2023 Jarvis,” Jarvis said. “While they have both fallen by 0.4 percentage points since then, they continue to be much higher than their pre-pandemic levels.”

Hours worked and underemployment

ABS figures showed that total hours worked in March saw an increase of 0.9%. This recovery marks an improvement over the past months, with the annual growth rate in hours worked reaching 1.7%, albeit still trailing behind the employment growth rate of 2.4%.

The underemployment rate decreased slightly to 6.5%, and the combined unemployment and underemployment rates, or the underutilisation rate, stayed steady at 10.3%.

Looking at the trends

The trend data for March indicated stability with the unemployment rate holding at 3.9% for the fifth consecutive month.

“In trend terms, the growth rate in employment and hours worked was weaker than the strong growth during late 2022 and early 2023. However, the recent trend data still point to a tight labour market,” Jarvis said.

For more details, read "Labour Force, Australia, March 2024". To compare the latest figures with the previous month’s click here.

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