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ABS - unemployment rate steady at 4%

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The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 4.0 per cent in March 2022, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said: “With employment increasing by 18,000 people and unemployment falling by 12,000, the unemployment rate decreased slightly in March, though remained at 4.0 per cent in rounded terms.

“4.0 per cent is the lowest the unemployment rate has been in the monthly survey. Lower rates were seen in the series before November 1974, when the survey was quarterly.”

The unemployment rate continued to fall faster for women than for men.

“The unemployment rate for women fell from 3.8 per cent to 3.7 per cent, the lowest it has been since May 1974. It remained at 4.2 per cent for men, its second lowest level since November 2008 and just above the rate from December 2021 of 4.1 per cent,” Mr Jarvis said.

Employment, hours worked and participation

Employment increased for the fifth month in a row, by around 18,000 people (0.1 per cent) in March. It was around 220,000 people (1.7 per cent) higher than the pre-Delta period high of June 2021.

Employment for youth, those aged between 15 and 24 years, increased by 36,000 in March 2022.

“While young people were particularly impacted early in the pandemic and during the Delta period, we have continued to see strong increases in youth employment over the past year. The youth employment-to-population ratio in March was the highest it had been since August 2008, at 64.8 per cent, and 4.6 percentage points higher than the start of the pandemic,” Mr Jarvis said.

Seasonally adjusted hours worked decreased by 0.6 per cent.

“With floods in New South Wales and Queensland, a higher than usual number of people reported working reduced hours due to bad weather in March. This was in addition to the high number of people away from work due to illness, reflecting further disruption from the Omicron variant,” Mr Jarvis said.

“The fall in hours in March follows falls in payroll jobs and wages over the same period. Like hours, that data can show larger short-term changes than for employment, because employees may be away from paid work for a short period without losing their job.”    

The participation rate remained at 66.4 per cent, in rounded terms, around the record high in February 2022.

Underemployment and underutilisation

The underemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 6.3 per cent. This was 2.5 percentage points lower than its March 2020 level (8.8 per cent) and the lowest it had been since November 2008.

The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, dropped 0.3 percentage points to 10.3 per cent. This was 3.8 percentage points lower than its March 2020 level (14.1 per cent) and the lowest level since September 2008.

Today's release includes additional analysis of hours worked, an analysis of job attachment and historical charts.

Further information, including regional labour market information, will be available in the upcoming March 2022 issue of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, due for release on Thursday 21 April 2022.

The ABS would like to thank Australians for their continued support in responding to our surveys during such a difficult time.