Labour Force, Australia

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

Reference period
June 2021

Key statistics

Seasonally adjusted estimates for June 2021:

  • Unemployment rate decreased to 4.9%.
  • Participation rate remained at 66.2%.
  • Employment increased to 13,154,200.
  • Employment to population ratio increased to 63.0%.
  • Underemployment rate increased to 7.9%.
  • Monthly hours worked decreased by 33 million hours.
May-21Jun-21Monthly changeMonthly change (%)Yearly changeYearly change (%)
Seasonally adjusted
Employed people13,125,10013,154,20029,1000.2%777,9006.3%
Unemployed people701,100679,100-22,000-3.1%-303,700-30.9%
Unemployment rate5.1%4.9%-0.2 ptsna-2.4 ptsna
Underemployment rate7.4%7.9%0.5 ptsna-3.7 ptsna
Participation rate66.2%66.2%0.0 ptsna2.1 ptsna
Monthly hours worked in all jobs 1,814 million 1,781 million-33 million-1.8%114 million6.8%

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

Understanding differences between the Labour Force Survey and the Labour Account

The ABS Labour Force Survey (LFS), like labour force surveys across the world, is designed to provide information on the usually resident civilian population (aged 15 and over).

The ABS Labour Account, introduced in 2017, is designed to complement the headline labour force statistics, by providing measures of all employed people, and all jobs, in the Australian economy. It accounts for the following groups that are outside of the scope of the LFS:

  • people who are not usually resident in Australia
  • Australian defence force personnel
  • people under the age of 15.

This means that if you subtract the employed persons total from the LFS from the employed persons total in the Labour Account, you will get a combined estimated contribution for these three groups. 

While administrative data is used to produce direct estimates of defence force personnel and a combination of administrative and survey data is used to estimate people under 15 who worked, a model-based approach is needed to estimate the contribution of short-term/temporary non-residents (including the number who were working, the jobs they held, and the hours they worked). 

As noted in Labour Account releases, there are inherent limitations in modelling the labour market activity of short-term non-residents, given available data sources. Prior to the COVID period, this modelling uncertainty did not have a material bearing on changes in Labour Account aggregates. However, with the large and unprecedented reductions in short-term non-resident arrivals in Australia during the COVID period, any modelling uncertainty for short-term non-residents is likely to be more visible than it would normally be. 

The ABS is reviewing its modelling of short-term non-residents in the Labour Account, which may result in method enhancements and revisions in future releases. An update on this work will be included in the next Labour Force (on 19 August) and the next Labour Account release (on 8 September).

In the meantime, users should exercise caution when using the derived difference between Labour Force and Labour Account aggregates.

For more information, see Labour Account Australia.

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 undertook an extensive annual review of its seasonally adjusted Labour Force series, prior to the release of April 2021 estimates.

This review followed similar reviews that are progressively being undertaken across the ABS economic statistics program. The Labour Force review identified a range of time series treatments to ensure that the seasonal adjustment process continues to be less influenced by the large month-to-month movements over the past year (and quarter-to-quarter movements for quarterly series), and more informed by seasonality before the COVID period. Revisions to most seasonally adjusted series are therefore relatively minor, but larger than would be observed through the use of concurrent seasonal adjustment (which was used prior to the COVID period, with revisions progressively made each month).

Through this process static forward factors have been calculated for the next 12 months taking effect from the April 2021 release (and the release of May 2021 Labour Force, for the quarterly series).

Survey response and timeline

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

The following image provides a timeline of events from March 2020 to June 2021 showing LFS collection periods, headline results as well as COVID-related community and business changes and announcements.
The following image provides a timeline of events from March 2020 to June 2021 showing LFS collection periods, headline results as well as COVID-related community and business changes and announcements.

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.

October 2021 Labour Force statistics will be released on 11 November

In Census years, the collection and reference weeks of the Labour Force Survey may be brought forward slightly to minimise the overlap with the Post Census Review (also referred to as the Census Post Enumeration Survey). The October 2021 survey will start enumeration on Sunday 3 October, slightly earlier than the Sunday between the 5th and 11th, as stated in the Methodology.

As a result, October 2021 Labour Force statistics will also be released a week earlier than originally advertised, on 11 November, rather than 18 November.

Articles and other information

This months Labour Force release includes:

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

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, one day after the detailed release (see Microdata: Longitudinal Labour Force, Australia).


In seasonally adjusted terms, in June 2021:

  • The unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 pts to 4.9%
  • The unemployment rate was 2.4 pts lower than June 2020, and 0.4 pts lower than March 2020
  • Unemployed people decreased by 22,000 to 679,100 
  • Unemployed people decreased by 303,700 from June 2020 and was 44,400 lower than March 2020
  • The youth unemployment rate decreased by 0.5 pts to 10.2%
  • The youth unemployment rate was 6.1 pts lower than June 2020, and 1.4 pts lower than March 2020


In seasonally adjusted terms, in June 2021:

  • Employment increased by 29,100 people (0.2%) to 13,154,200 people
  • Over the year to June 2021, employment increased by 777,900 people (6.3%)
  • Employment was 159,400 people (1.2%) 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 June 2021 the net increase in the number of employed people is the result of around 420,000 people entered employment (i.e. they were not employed in May but were employed in June), while around 460,000 people left employment (i.e. they were employed in May but were not employed in June). This contrasts with May 2021 where around 510,000 people entered employment and around 370,000 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 May and June (based on the matched sample). It shows that:

  • 97% of people employed in May were also employed in June (with 1% moving to unemployment and 3% to not in the labour force)
  • 57% of people unemployed in May were also unemployed in June (with 22% moving to employment and 21% to not in the labour force)
  • 94% of people not in the labour force in May were also not in the labour force in June (with 4% moving to employment and 2% to unemployment)

Flows in labour force status, May to June

Flows in labour force status, May to June

Flows in labour force status, May to June

Full-time and part-time employment

In seasonally adjusted terms, in June 2021:

  • Full-time employment increased by 51,600 to 9,016,800 people, and part-time employment decreased by 22,500 to 4,137,400 people
  • Over the year to June 2021, full-time employment increased by 487,200 people and part-time employment increased by 290,700 people
  • The part-time share of employment was 31.5%, 0.3 pts lower than in March 2020 and 0.4 pts higher than this time last year.


Employment-to-population ratio

In seasonally adjusted terms, in June 2021, the employment-to-population ratio:

  • Increased by 0.1 pts to 63.0%
  • Increased by 3.6 pts from the same time last year, and was 0.6 pts higher than March 2020.

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

Hours worked

In seasonally adjusted terms, in June 2021, monthly hours worked in all jobs :

  • ​​​​​Decreased by 33.4 million hours (1.8%) to 1,781 million hours
  • Increased by 6.8% over the year, which is larger than the 6.3% increase in employed people
  • Increased 18.2 million hours (1.0%) from March 2020 

See the article Insights into hours worked for more.


In seasonally adjusted terms, in June 2021, the participation rate:

  • Remained at 66.2%

  • Increased by 0.1 pts for men to 71.0% and decreased by 0.1 pts for women to 61.6%

  • Increased by 2.1 pts over the year to June 2021, and was 0.3 pts higher than March 2020


In seasonally adjusted terms, in June 2021:

  • The underemployment rate increased by 0.5 pts to 7.9%
  • The underemployment rate was 3.7 pts lower than June 2020, and 0.9 pts lower than March 2020 
  • The underutilisation rate increased by 0.3 pts to 12.8%

States and territories

June 2021, Seasonally adjusted
New South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaNorthern TerritoryAustralian Capital TerritoryAustralia
Employed people4,154,8003,444,5002,661,300866,6001,404,400262,200126,200232,30013,154,200
Employed people - monthly change-0.2%-0.3%0.6%-0.5%0.9%1.0%-3.9%-2.5%0.2%
Employment to population ratio62.6%63.2%63.3%59.3%65.1%58.4%66.4%67.4%63.0%
Employment to population ratio - monthly change-0.1 pts-0.2 pts0.3 pts-0.3 pts0.5 pts0.5 pts-2.8 pts-1.8 pts0.1 pts
Unemployment rate5.1%4.4%5.1%5.3%5.1%4.5%4.8%4.9%4.9%
Unemployment rate - monthly change0.0 pts-0.3 pts-0.3 pts-0.5 pts0.5 pts-1.2 pts0.3 pts1.3 pts-0.2 pts
Underemployment rate7.2%10.1%7.0%7.8%7.2%8.8%5.0%5.6%7.9%
Underemployment rate - monthly change-0.1 pts2.3 pts-0.7 pts0.0 pts0.0 pts-0.1 pts0.5 pts-0.2 pts0.5 pts
Participation rate65.9%66.1%66.7%62.6%68.7%61.1%69.7%70.8%66.2%
Participation rate - monthly change-0.1 pts-0.4 pts0.1 pts-0.7 pts0.9 pts-0.2 pts-2.7 pts-1.0 pts0.0 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
May outgoing rotation groupJune incoming rotation groupJune outgoing rotation groupJune estimate (Original)
Employment to population ratio62.8%64.0%63.1%63.0%
Full-time employment to population ratio42.8%44.3%42.7%43.0%
Unemployment rate5.0%5.5%5.1%4.8%
Participation rate66.1%67.7%66.5%66.2%

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 June 2021, the incoming rotation group in New South Wales had a higher employment to population ratio than the group it replaced, but was more similar to the rest of the sample in June. 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 the incoming rotation groups

In response to COVID-19 and the suspension of face-to-face interviewing, the ABS boosted 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 has ensured a comparable level of fully responding households to the pre-COVID period. 

Between April and September 2020 additional weighting treatments were used to effectively account for a slightly higher level of non-response. No such treatment was required after September, with the response patterns returning close to the pre-COVID period.

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

Article archive

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6202.0.

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