Impacts on the Australian labour market: A regional perspective, June 2020


As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved there has been a divergence in the degree of restrictions across the state and territories, and the resulting impacts on each state or territory's economy and its labour market. With increasing differences in restrictions across Australia developing, there may continue to be varying impacts across the country in the coming months.

This article compares the key labour market indicators across different parts of Australia that were first highlighted in Impacts on the Australian Labour Market: A regional perspective in the April issue of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed.

The key labour market indicators for June show the large impacts on the Australian labour market in recent months. Between March and May, in seasonally adjusted terms, employment fell by 871,500, before rising by almost 210,800 into June.

In contrast, unemployment has risen from March through June, with the number of unemployed people increasing by a seasonally adjusted 276,200 to almost 1 million and the unemployment rate increasing 2.2 pts to 7.4% over this period. The participation rate decreased by 3.3 pts between March and May, before increasing by 1.3 pts to 64.0% between May and June.


Chart 1 shows the changes in the employment-to-population ratio from March to May, in original terms (regional level data are not seasonally adjusted, so the remainder of this article uses original data). All geographical areas recorded decreases, with the largest fall occurring in Hobart (down 5.4 pts), whilst the rest of South Australia (-1.7 pts) recorded the smallest decrease. All capital cities, except Perth, recorded larger drops compared to their corresponding rest of state area.

From May to June, the employment-to-population ratio increased in all areas except the Northern Territory (down 0.8 pts). The ACT recorded the largest overall increase (up 1.7 pts).

Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed

Full-time and part-time employment

Chart 2 shows the change in full-time employment and part-time employment from March to May. For full-time employment, the largest decrease was in rest of NSW (down 5.6%). For part-time employment, the largest drop was in Perth (down 15.2%). Between March and May, part-time employment fell 11.7%, compared to a decrease of 3.7% in full-time employment.

Chart 3 shows the change in full-time employment and part-time employment from May to June. Part-time employment rebounded at a strong pace as full-time employment overall slightly fell. For full-time employment, the largest increase between May and June was seen in Sydney (up 0.7%). Part-time employment recorded the largest increase in rest of Western Australia (up 14.5%).

Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed

Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed


Chart 4 shows the change in the participation rate from March to May, and from May to June. All areas recorded a decrease in the participation rate between March and May, with the largest decrease in Hobart (down 5.3 pts).

The participation rate increased in all areas from May to June, except for the Northern Territory (down 2.0 pts). The largest increases were seen in Sydney and the ACT (both up 2.0 pts).


Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed


Chart 5 shows that all areas recorded an increase in the unemployment rate between March and May, with the rest of Queensland (up 2.3 pts) recording the highest increase.

The unemployment rate increased in most areas from May to June. The rest of South Australia (up 0.9 pts) recorded the largest increase. However, a decrease was seen in the Northern Territory (down 1.5 pts).

Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed

Hours actually worked

Chart 6 shows the month-to-month percentage change in hours actually worked (in the reference week) for the states and territories for April, May and June (hours worked are not published for regional data). Original data are used, to assist with comparisons of hours worked and the other data presented for capital cities and the rest of state. Seasonally adjusted total monthly hours worked for states and territories are available in Tables 19 and 19a of Labour Force, Australia.

While all states and territories recorded a decrease in hours worked in April, followed by an increase in May, there was considerable variability in hours worked growth into June.


Further information

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