Employment falls by 30,000 people in September

Media Release

Seasonally adjusted employment decreased by 30,000 people (0.2 per cent) between August and September and unemployment increased by 11,000 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Employment and hours worked

Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, said: "Employment decreased by around 0.2 per cent, following the strong increase in August. Employment in September was around 3.3 per cent below March.

“The data also showed that hours worked rose by 0.5 per cent, following a small decrease in August (0.1 per cent). However, hours worked were 5.1 per cent below March.

"The September data provides further insights into the labour market impacts from the Stage 4 restrictions in Victoria. Employment in Victoria decreased by 36,000, following a fall of 37,000 in August. Hours worked in the state fell by a further 2.1 per cent, following the 4.6 per cent fall in August,” Mr Jarvis said.

Nationally, full-time employment increased for females but decreased for males. Female full-time employment was 3.4 per cent below March, while male full-time employment was 4.0 per cent below.

Unemployment and participation

The decrease in seasonally adjusted employment coincided with an increase in unemployment (11,000) and a marginal decrease in participation.

“This is the second month in a row where there has not been much change in the national participation rate, following the recovery in June and July (1.4 and 0.6 percentage points). The decrease of 0.1 percentage points in September follows an increase of 0.2 percentage points in August,” Mr Jarvis said.

With participation relatively unchanged, the decrease in employment and increase in unemployment saw the unemployment rate increase from 6.8 per cent to 6.9 per cent. 

The Victorian participation rate fell 1.0 percentage points in September and was 3.4 percentage points below March. The Victorian unemployment rate decreased from 7.1 per cent to 6.7 per cent.


The underemployment rate increased 0.1 percentage point to 11.4 per cent, 2.6 percentage points above March. 

The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, rose 0.2 percentage points to 18.3 per cent, but remained 4.3 percentage points higher than March.

Today's release includes additional analysis of hours worked, including for those people working zero hours, analysis of employment and hours for the states and territories. 

More details are in the September 2020 issue of Labour Force, Australia. Further information, including regional labour market information, will be available in the upcoming September 2020 issue of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, due for release on 22 October 2020.

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

Media notes

  • People in the Labour Force are either employed, or unemployed. In order to be unemployed, people must be actively looking for work, and available to start work during the reference week. 
  • As states and territories are seasonally adjusted independently, the sum of all states and territories does not equal the seasonally adjusted estimate for Australia. As a result, the 'Rest of Australia' series in the first graph has been calculated by subtracting Victoria from Australia.
  • The ABS has suspended publishing trend series for the COVID-19 period.
  • Further information on additional labour market statistics can be found in Measuring the labour market impacts of COVID-19; part of the suite of information available on the ABS website.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via media@abs.gov.au (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
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