Unemployment rate falls to 3.5%

Media Release

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.5 per cent in June 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 88,000 people and unemployment falling by 54,000, the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points, to 3.5 per cent.

“This is the lowest unemployment rate since August 1974, when it was 2.7 per cent and the survey was quarterly.”

The unemployment rate continued to fall for men and women (both down 0.4 percentage points).

"The 3.4 per cent unemployment rate for women was the lowest since February 1974 and the 3.6 per cent rate for men was the lowest since May 1976,” Mr Jarvis said.

“The large fall in the unemployment rate this month reflects more people than usual entering employment and also lower than usual numbers of employed people becoming unemployed. Together these flows reflect an increasingly tight labour market, with high demand for engaging and retaining workers, as well as ongoing labour shortages.”

The fall in unemployment through the pandemic has coincided with large increases in job vacancies (480,000 in May 2022). As a result, there was almost the same number of unemployed people in June 2022 (494,000 people) as vacant jobs.

“This equates to around one unemployed person per vacant job (1.0), compared with three times as many people before the start of the pandemic (3.1)”, Mr Jarvis said.

Employment, participation and hours worked

Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 88,000 people (0.7 per cent) in June 2022.

The increase in June 2022 was the eighth consecutive rise in employment, following the easing of restrictions after the Delta lockdowns in late 2021.

“Employment growth continues to follow a reasonably consistent trend. Average monthly employment growth over the past three months has been around 51,000 people and around 52,000 since November 2021. This was similar to the average monthly increase we saw over the year prior to the Delta lockdowns (61,000 people). The growth continues to be noticeably stronger than before the pandemic when the trend was around 20,000 people each month,” Mr Jarvis said.

Source: Labour Force, Australia Table 1

With strong employment growth for both men and women, the employment to population ratio increased to 64.4 per cent in June, the highest in the series.

“The strong increase in female employment, which accounted for around two-thirds of the total increase (63.0 per cent), saw their employment-to-population-ratio rise to a new record high of 60.3 per cent. It is now 2.3 percentage points above its pre-pandemic level,” Mr Jarvis said.

There was also strong growth in youth employment (those aged between 15 and 24 years) which increased by 23,000 people (1.1 per cent), and accounted for over a quarter of the total increase in employment. 

The participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 66.8 per cent in June, the highest in the series and 0.9 percentage points above March 2020. 

Unlike the rise in employment, seasonally adjusted hours worked fell slightly in June (down less than 0.1 per cent), following increases in the previous two months. 

“In line with large numbers of COVID-19 cases in June, the number of people working reduced hours due to illness continued to be high. This reflected ongoing disruption associated with the Omicron variant and cases of influenza,” Mr Jarvis said.

“There was around 780,000 people working fewer hours than usual due to own illness in June 2022, almost double the usual number we see at the start of winter.”

Source: Labour Force, Australia Tables 1 and 19

Underemployment and underutilisation

The underemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points to 6.1 per cent. The youth underemployment rate increased by 1.2 percentage points to 13.9 per cent. 

The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, remained at 9.6 per cent, its lowest level since April 1982.

Today's release includes additional analysis of hours worked and historical charts showing data back to 1966.

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

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

Media notes

  • The June survey reference period was from 29 May 2022 to 11 June 2022. The July survey reference period is from 3 July to 16 July 2022.
  • The ABS is planning to reinstate Trend estimates (and revert to concurrent seasonal adjustment) for Labour Force series over the coming months. 
  • The numbers in the media release are rounded to the nearest thousand people. For more detailed numbers see the data downloads tab in the Labour Force, Australia publication.
  • 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).
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