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Labour Force, Australia

Headline estimates of employment, unemployment, underemployment, participation and hours worked from the monthly Labour Force Survey

Reference period
February 2022
Released
17/03/2022

Key statistics

Seasonally adjusted estimates for February 2022:

  • unemployment rate fell to 4.0%.
  • participation rate increased to 66.4%.
  • employment increased to 13,372,000.
  • employment to population ratio increased to 63.8%.
  • underemployment rate decreased to 6.6%.
  • monthly hours worked increased by 149 million hours.
Jan-2022Feb-2022Monthly changeMonthly change (%)Yearly changeYearly change (%)
Seasonally adjusted
Employed people13,294,60013,372,00077,4000.6%395,4003.0%
Unemployed people581,800563,300-18,500-3.2%-244,800-30.3%
Unemployment rate4.2%4.0%-0.2 ptsna-1.8 ptsna
Underemployment rate6.7%6.6%-0.1 ptsna-1.8 ptsna
Participation rate66.2%66.4%0.2 ptsna0.4 ptsna
Monthly hours worked in all jobs 1,665 million 1,813 million149 million8.9%49 million2.8%

Estimates of changes throughout this release are calculated using un-rounded level estimates and may be different from, but are more accurate than, movements obtained from the rounded level estimates.

Survey impacts and changes

Articles and other information

The ABS has again included more detailed information given the interest in understanding:

  • hours worked 
  • people who were not employed but indicated they were attached to a job

This detailed information can be found in:

For a list of previously published LFS articles, see the Article archive.

The ABS is also continuing to include data cubes EM2a and EM2b in this release. These two data cubes are usually only released in Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, but will continue to be released in the headline release over the coming months, to enable more detailed analysis of changes in hours worked and the reasons that people are working reduced or no hours.

Additional spreadsheets and pivot tables are published in Labour Force, Australia, Detailed one week after this release, while longitudinal labour force microdata are released in the ABS DataLab, on 24 March 2022 (see Microdata: Longitudinal Labour Force, Australia).

Quarterly rebenchmarking of labour force statistics

The ABS has revised the original Labour Force series from July 2020 to reflect the latest available preliminary and final estimates of the Estimated Resident Population. This quarterly process ensures that the Labour Force series promptly reflect any change in population trends and minimises the size of revisions that can occur when the series are rebenchmarked following each Census of Population and Housing.

In response to COVID-19 related changes in travel, the ABS has been revising preliminary Net Overseas Migration estimates more frequently. Net Overseas Migration estimates are a component of population estimates, from which Labour Force benchmarks are produced. These revisions have been incorporated into the quarterly rebenchmarking revisions. For more information, please refer to 'Net Overseas Migration revisions in Labour Force benchmarks during COVID-19'.

The usual resident civilian population in December 2021 was revised up by around 0.13% (around 28,100 people).

Revisions to original series also result in revisions to seasonally adjusted series.

Seasonal adjustment and trend estimates

In the April 2020 Labour Force release, the ABS advised that the method used to produce seasonally adjusted estimates would be changed from the ‘concurrent’ method to the ‘forward factors’ method, during the COVID-19 period. The forward factors approach is better suited to managing large movements at the end point of series and ensures that large movements do not have a disproportionate influence on the seasonal factors.

Given the large movements in the labour market during the COVID-19 period and the continuing use of a forward factors approach to seasonal adjustment, the ABS will be undertaking an ‘Extraordinary Annual Series Review’ of Labour Force series, ahead of the release of April 2022 data (on 19 May 2022). The outcome of this process will be summarised in a future release.

Survey response and timeline - Floods in February

The February Labour Force Survey was run in respect of the two weeks from Sunday 30 January to Saturday 12 February, and collected over the period from Sunday 6 February to Saturday 26 February.

Large scale floods in Queensland and New South Wales in late February occurred after the February survey reference period and towards the end of the data collection phase. Quality assurance undertaken by the ABS confirmed floods did not impact February Labour Force statistics.

Looking ahead to March, the disruption to survey enumeration activities increased with the severity of flooding and their major impact on the affected communities in Queensland and New South Wales. The ABS will undertake additional quality assurance to ensure that any impact on state and national estimates is minimised, though there may be some localised impacts on detailed regional estimates in March.

For a recent example of where the ABS has undertaken quality assurance around a major disaster, please refer to ‘Assessing the impact of the bushfires on labour force statistics’ in the January 2020 release (in February 2020).

The ABS would like to thank Australians for their continued support in responding to our surveys during such a difficult time, given how critically important this information is.

Reference and Enumeration Dates
PublicationStart of Reference WeekEnd of Reference WeekStart of EnumerationEnd of Enumeration
January 20222nd January 202215th January 20229th January 202229th January 2022
February 202230th January 202212th February 20226th February 202226th February 2022
March 202227th February 202212th March 20226th March 202226th March 2022
April 20223rd April 202216th April 202210th April 202230th April 2022
May 20221st May 202214th May 20228th May 202228th May 2022
June 202229th May 202211th June 20225th June 202225th June 2022

Unemployment

In seasonally adjusted terms, in February 2022:

  • unemployment rate fell to 4.0%.
  • unemployment rate was 1.2 pts below March 2020.
  • unemployed people decreased by 18,500 to 563,300. 
  • unemployed people was 159,900 lower than March 2020.
  • youth unemployment rate increased by 0.3 pts to 9.3%.
  • youth unemployment rate was 2.3 pts lower than March 2020.

Employment

In seasonally adjusted terms, in February 2022:

  • employment increased by 77,400 people (0.6%) to 13,372,000 people.
  • employment was 376,500 people (2.9%) higher than March 2020.

 

Flows into and out of employment

Flows into and out of employment are extensive and are based on the net matched sample of original employment growth between two consecutive months (around 80% of the sample). The (net) sum of the inflows and outflows does not necessarily equal the 'net' employment growth.

For February 2022, the net change in the number of employed people is the result of around 721,000 people entered employment (i.e. they were not employed in January but were employed in February), while around 386,000 people left employment (i.e. they were employed in January but were not employed in February). This contrasts with January 2022 where around 437,000 people entered employment and around 786,000 people left employment.

Note: As the inflows and outflows analysis is based on the matched sample (around 80% of the sample), and the original employment growth is based on the entire sample and the latest months weight, the (net) sum of the inflows and outflows does not necessarily equal the 'net' employment growth.

The following diagram shows the proportion of people moving between employment, unemployment and not in the labour force between January 2022 and February 2022 (based on the matched sample). It shows that:

  • 97% of people employed in January were also employed in February (with 1% moving to unemployment and 2% to not in the labour force).
  • 51% of people unemployed in January were also unemployed in February (with 29% moving to employment and 20% to not in the labour force).
  • 90% of people not in the labour force in January were also not in the labour force in February (with 8% moving to employment and 2% to unemployment).


 

    Flows in labour force status, January to February

    This diagram shows the proportion of people moving between employment, unemployment and not in the labour force between January and February (based on the matched sample).

    Flows in labour force status, January to February

    This diagram shows the proportion of people moving between employment, unemployment and not in the labour force between January 2022 and February 2022 (based on the matched sample). It shows that:

    - 97% of people employed in January were also employed in February (with 1% moving to unemployment and 2% to not in the labour force)
    - 51% of people unemployed in January were also unemployed in February (with 29% moving to employment and 20% to not in the labour force)
    - 90% of people not in the labour force in January were also not in the labour force in February (with 8% moving to employment and 2% to unemployment)

    Full-time and part-time employment

    In seasonally adjusted terms, in February 2022:

    • full-time employment increased by 121,900 to 9,228,000 people, and part-time employment decreased by 44,500 to 4,144,000 people.
    • part-time share of employment was 31.0%, 0.8 pts lower than in March 2020.

     

    Employment-to-population ratio

    In seasonally adjusted terms, in February 2022, the employment-to-population ratio:

    • increased by 0.3 pts to 63.8%.
    • higher than March 2020 by 1.4 pts.

    The employment-to-population ratio provides a measure of employment relative to the size of the population.

    Hours worked

    In seasonally adjusted terms, in February 2022, monthly hours worked in all jobs:

    • ​​​​​increased by 148.7 million hours (8.9%) to 1,813 million hours.
    • increased by 48.4 million hours (2.7%) from March 2020. 

    See the article Insights into hours worked for more.

    Participation

    In seasonally adjusted terms, in February 2022, the participation rate:

    • increased by 0.2 pts to 66.4%.

    • increased by 0.2 pts for men to 70.7% and increased by 0.2 pts to 62.4% for women.

    • higher than March 2020 by 0.6 pts.

    Underemployment

    In seasonally adjusted terms, in February 2022:

    • underemployment rate decreased by 0.1 pts to 6.6%.
    • underemployment rate was 2.2 pts lower than March 2020. 
    • underutilisation rate decreased by 0.3 pts to 10.6%.

    States and Territories

    February 2022, Seasonally adjusted
    New South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaNorthern TerritoryAustralian Capital TerritoryAustralia
    Employed people4,215,3003,484,0002,712,400880,2001,456,500265,600132,600234,30013,372,000
    Employed people - monthly change1.4%0.5%0.5%0.5%0.0%2.4%0.5%1.4%0.6%
    Employment to population ratio63.0%64.3%63.9%60.2%67.1%59.1%70.0%68.5%63.8%
    Employment to population ratio - monthly change0.8 pts0.3 pts0.2 pts0.2 pts-0.1 pts1.3 pts0.3 pts0.9 pts0.3 pts
    Unemployment rate3.7%4.2%4.3%5.0%4.1%3.9%3.5%3.0%4.0%
    Unemployment rate - monthly change-0.5 pts0.1 pts-0.1 pts0.2 pts0.4 pts0.1 pts-0.2 pts-0.2 pts-0.2 pts
    Underemployment rate6.4%6.1%7.3%7.5%6.8%8.1%6.0%5.0%6.6%
    Underemployment rate - monthly change0.0 pts0.0 pts0.1 pts-0.5 pts-0.4 pts0.2 pts0.6 pts0.2 pts-0.1 pts
    Participation rate65.4%67.1%66.7%63.4%70.0%61.5%72.5%70.6%66.4%
    Participation rate - monthly change0.5 pts0.4 pts0.2 pts0.4 pts0.2 pts1.4 pts0.1 pts0.8 pts0.2 pts

    Rotation group analysis

    Sample composition and rotation

    The Labour Force Survey sample can be thought of as comprising eight sub-samples (rotation groups), with each sub-sample remaining in the survey for eight months, and one group "rotating out" each month and being replaced by a new group "rotating in". As seven-eighths of the sample are common from one month to the next, changes in the estimates reflect real changes in the labour market, rather than changes in the sample. The replacement sample is generally selected from the same geographic areas as the outgoing one, as part of a representative sampling approach.

    The sample comprises three components:

    • the matched common sample (people who responded in both the current month and previous month)
    • the unmatched common sample (people who responded in the current month but who did not respond in the previous month, or vice versa)
    • the incoming rotation group (replacing people who rotated out)

    The matched common sample describes the change observed for the same respondents in the current and previous month, while the other two components reflect differences between the aggregate labour force status of different groups of people.

    While the rotation groups are designed to be representative of the population, the outgoing and incoming rotation groups will almost always have somewhat different characteristics, as they reflect different households and people. The design of the survey, including the weighting and estimation processes, ensures that these differences are generally relatively minor and do not affect the representativeness of the survey and its estimates. Monthly estimates are designed to be representative, regardless of the relative contribution of the three components of the sample.

    The contributions of the three sample components to the original estimates of employed, unemployed and not in the labour force are in the Contribution from sample components to estimates spreadsheet.

    Estimates for the incoming and outgoing rotation groups

    Incoming and outgoing rotation groups
    January outgoing rotation groupFebruary incoming rotation groupFebruary outgoing rotation groupFebruary estimate (Original)
    Employment to population ratio62.7%64.2%62.6%64.1%
    Full-time employment to population ratio43.2%44.7%43.6%44.6%
    Unemployment rate4.1%5.0%4.3%4.3%
    Participation rate65.3%67.6%65.4%67.0%

    States and territories

    In addition to analysis across the entire sample, the ABS also undertakes similar analysis for the responding sample in each state and territory each month, and highlights where there is a notable change for users to be aware of. For example, in December 2021, the incoming rotation groups in New South Wales and Victoria had a higher employment-to-population ratio and population share than the groups they replaced. These ratios of the incoming rotation groups in New South Wales and Victoria were also higher than most other rotation groups. As with any notable month-to-month movement of this nature in state and territory estimates, the ABS recommends exercising a degree of caution in interpreting short-term changes.

    As for its reporting for the entire sample, where the ABS has not highlighted a notable incoming rotation group effect, any larger changes should therefore be considered to reflect a broader change across the sample.

    Managing COVID-19 impacts on incoming rotation groups

    In response to COVID-19 and the suspension of face-to-face interviewing, the ABS increased the size of sample for the incoming rotation groups from June to December 2020 to ensure response level were around the same as pre-COVID-19 rotation groups. This ensured a comparable number of fully responding households to the pre-COVID period.

    In response to the data collection challenges associated with the COVID-19 Delta variant, the ABS increased the size of the sample for the incoming rotation group in New South Wales in September 2021, and in New South Wales and Victoria from October 2021 to January 2022. As with earlier in the pandemic, this has ensured that survey response has remained at a similar level to the pre-COVID period.

    The sample size of the incoming rotation group for February 2022 was similar to the rotation groups of the pre-COVID period.

    Between April and September 2020, and in September and October 2021, additional weighting treatments were used to effectively account for a slightly higher level of non-response related to lockdowns and other restrictions. No such treatment has been required since October 2021.

    Comparability with seasonally adjusted data

    The gross flows and rotation group data are in original terms only, and are included to provide additional information on the month-to-month movements. They have a considerable level of inherent sampling variability, which is specifically adjusted for in the seasonally adjusted series.

    While trend data usually provides the best measure of the underlying behaviour of the labour market, in times of large changes in the labour market, seasonally adjusted data provides a better estimate of the most recent months. The ABS has temporarily suspended the trend series until labour market indicators become more stable, see  Suspension of trend series and changes to seasonal adjustment during the COVID-19 period.

    Contribution from sample components to estimates

    Data downloads

    Labour Force Survey results are released in three stages.

    1. Spreadsheets of the headline indicators are published in this release
    2. Additional, more detailed spreadsheets and pivot tables are published in Labour Force, Australia, Detailed one week after this first release
    3. Longitudinal labour force microdata are released in the ABS DataLab on a monthly basis, one day after the detailed release (see Microdata: Longitudinal Labour Force, Australia)

    See the Survey output section of Labour Force, Australia methodology for more information.

    Labour Force status

    Data files

    Hours worked

    Data files

    Underemployment and underutilisation

    Data files

    Flows into and out of employment

    GM1 - Labour force status and Gross changes (flows) by Age, Sex, State and Territory, February 1991 onwards

    All time series spreadsheets

    All time series spreadsheets


     

    Data Explorer datasets

    Caution: Data in the Data Explorer is currently released after the 11:30am release on the ABS website. Please check the time period when using Data Explorer.

    For information on Data Explorer and how it works, see the Data Explorer user guide.

    Labour force status by Sex, State and Territory - Number of people employed, unemployed and not in the labour force, monthly, February 1978 and onwards

    Article archive

    Previous catalogue number

    This release previously used catalogue number 6202.0.