6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, May 2020 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/06/2020   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY May 2020

NATIONAL ESTIMATES

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

Australia's seasonally adjusted estimate of employment decreased by 227,700 people in May 2020, with:

  • the number of unemployed people increasing by 85,700 people;
  • the unemployment rate increasing 0.7 percentage points (pts) to 7.1%;
  • the underemployment rate decreasing by 0.7 pts to 13.1%;
  • the underutilisation rate increasing by less than 0.1 pts to 20.2%;
  • the participation rate decreasing 0.7 pts to 62.9%; and
  • the employment to population ratio decreasing 1.1 pts to 58.4%.

Employment decreased by 227,700 people (-1.8%) between April and May 2020, with full-time employment decreasing by 89,100 people and part-time employment decreasing by 138,600 people. Compared to a year ago, there were 237,900 less people employed full-time and 457,700 less people employed part-time. This change led to a decrease in the part-time share of employment over the past 12 months, from 31.7% to 29.7%.

The employment to population ratio, which is a measure of how employed the population (aged 15 years and over) is, decreased by 1.1 pts in May to 58.4%.


GRAPH 1. EMPLOYMENT TO POPULATION RATIO, PEOPLE, May 2010 to May 2020
Graph shows the seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio, from 61.6% in May 2010, dropping to 61.1% in May 2015 before rising to 62.7% in August 2019. It was 59.5% in April 2020 and fell to 58.4%  in May 2020.


Monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 12.1 million hours (-0.7%) to 1,604.7 million hours in May 2020, smaller than the decrease in employed people (-1.8%). In May 2020, the average hours worked per employed person was around 30.4 hours per week, up from around 30.1 hours in April.

The unemployment rate increased 0.7 pts to 7.1% and was 1.9 pts higher than in May 2019. The number of unemployed people increased by 85,700 in May 2020 to 927,600 people, and increased by 219,200 people from May 2019.

The underemployment rate decreased by 0.7 pts to 13.1% and was 4.5 pts higher than in May 2019. The number of underemployed people decreased by 109,500 in May 2020 to 1,711,500 people, and increased by 47.6% or 552,300 people since May 2019.


GRAPH 2. UNDEREMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT AND UNDERUTILISATION RATES
Graph shows the 20 year time series for the unemployment, underemployment and underutilisation rates. May 2020 shows a slight decrease in the underemployment rate from April 2020 highs. The unemployment and underutilisation rates continued to rise.


The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed people. Between April and May the labour force decreased by 142,000 people (-1.1%) to 13,081,700. Over the past year the labour force decreased by 3.5%, while the total civilian population aged 15 years and over increased by 1.3%.

The participation rate decreased 0.7 pts to 62.9% in May 2020, and was 3.2 pts lower than in May 2019. Female participation decreased 0.6 pts to 57.8%, and male participation rate decreased 0.8 pts to 68.1%.

The participation rate for 15-64 year olds, which controls (in part) for the effects of an aging population, decreased by 0.8 pts in May 2020 to 75.3%. This decrease was slightly higher than for the total population, highlighting the relatively larger falls in participation in the younger age groups.

The participation rate for 15-24 year olds (who are often referred to as the "youth" group in the labour market) decreased 2.6 pts to 59.9% in May 2020. Employment for 15-24 year olds decreased by 102,900 people (-6.0%). The unemployment rate for this group increased 2.0 pts to 16.1%.


STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES

In May 2020, all states and territories recorded decreases in employment. The largest decreases in employment were recorded in Victoria (down 70,800 people), New South Wales (down 43,900 people), Western Australia (down 30,200 people), and Queensland (down 28,100 people).

Unemployment rates increased in all states and territories except for the Australian Capital Territory, which slightly decreased by 0.1 pts (down to 4.1%). The largest increases were 2.0 pts in Western Australia (up to 8.1%), 1.8 pts in Northern Territory (up to 7.4%), 0.9 pts in Victoria (up to 6.9%), and 0.9 pts in Queensland (up to 7.9%).

The largest participation rate decreases were 2.3 pts in Tasmania (down to 57.3%), followed by 1.2 pts in Australian Capital Territory (down to 69.4%), and by 0.8 pts in Victoria (down to 63.7%).

Due to trend estimates not being published in May 2020, seasonally adjusted estimates are included for the two territories.


TABLE 1. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, STATES AND TERRITORIES - SEASONALLY ADJUSTED

April 2020
May 2020
%
%

New South Wales
6.3
6.4
Victoria
6.0
6.9
Queensland
7.0
7.9
South Australia
7.2
7.9
Western Australia
6.1
8.1
Tasmania
6.2
6.4
Northern Territory
5.6
7.4
Australian Capital Territory
4.3
4.1
Australia
6.4
7.1