Unemployment rate falls in May

13 June 2024
| By Rhea Nath |
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The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4 per cent in May, a decline of 0.1 percentage point.

This was down from 4.1 per cent in April and was largely in line with economist predictions.

According to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), unemployment rose by around 40,000 people and the number of unemployed fell by 9,000.

Bjorn Jarvis, ABS head of labour statistics, said: “In April we saw more unemployed people than usual waiting to start work. Some of the fall in unemployment and rise in employment in May reflects these people starting or returning to their jobs.

“While the total number of unemployed people fell by 9,000 in May, this followed a 33,000 increase in April. Unemployment was around 24,000 people more than in March, an average increase of around 12,000 people each month.”

There are now almost 600,000 unemployed people, he observed, which is almost 110,000 fewer people than in March 2020, prior to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the participation rate remained at 66.8 per cent while the seasonally adjusted employment-to-population ratio remained at 64.1 per cent.

Jarvis noted both rates continue to be much higher than their pre-pandemic levels.

“Together with elevated levels of job vacancies, this suggests the labour market remains relatively tight, though less than in late 2022 and early 2023,” he said.

“In trend terms, the participation rate remains particularly high for women, at 62.7 per cent and around 1.5 percentage points higher than its pre-pandemic level. The participation rate also remains high for men, at 70.8 per cent, which is around 0.7 percentage points more than March 2020.”

Jarvis highlighted the gap between female and male participation rates has been around 8.0 percentage points over the past year, compared to around 9.6 percentage points in the year before the pandemic.

Looking at underemployment, the seasonally adjusted rate remained steady at 6.7 per cent in May. Although this has risen by 0.3 percentage points since May 2023, the ABS noted it remained 2 percentage points lower than in March 2020.

The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, also remained steady at 10.7 per cent.

According to the ABS’ latest figures, the trend unemployment rate rose to 4 per cent, up from a revised 3.9 per cent for April.

In trend terms, employment grew by 39,000 people (0.3 per cent), which continued to see faster growth than the 20-year pre-pandemic average (0.2 per cent).

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