Labour Force, Australia

Latest release

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

Reference period
January 2024
Released
15/02/2024
  • Next Release 21/03/2024
    Labour Force, Australia, February 2024
  • Next Release 18/04/2024
    Labour Force, Australia, March 2024
  • Next Release 16/05/2024
    Labour Force, Australia, April 2024
  • View all releases

Key statistics

In trend terms, in January 2024:

  • unemployment rate remained at 3.9%. 
  • participation rate decreased to 66.8%.
  • employment increased to 14,221,900.
  • employment to population ratio decreased to 64.1%.
  • underemployment increased to 6.6%.
  • monthly hours worked decreased to 1,906 million.

In seasonally adjusted terms, in January 2024:

  • unemployment rate increased to 4.1%.
  • participation rate remained at 66.8%.
  • employment increased to 14,201,300.
  • employment to population ratio decreased to 64.1%.
  • underemployment rate increased to 6.6%.
  • monthly hours worked decreased to 1,871 million.
  • full-time employment increased by 11,100 to 9,797,800 people.
  • part-time employment decreased by 10,600 to 4,403,500 people.
Key statistics - Trend
Dec-23Jan-24Monthly changeMonthly change (%)Yearly changeYearly change (%)
Employed people14,214,50014,221,9007,4000.1%355,3002.6%
Unemployed people576,400581,6005,2000.9%75,60014.9%
Unemployment rate3.9%3.9%0.0 ptsna0.4 ptsna
Underemployment rate6.5%6.6%0.0 ptsna0.5 ptsna
Participation rate66.9%66.8%-0.1 ptsna0.0 ptsna
Monthly hours worked in all jobs 1,915 million 1,906 million-10 million-0.5%-9 million-0.5%
Key statistics - Seasonally adjusted
Dec-23Jan-24Monthly changeMonthly change (%)Yearly changeYearly change (%)
Employed people14,200,80014,201,3005000.0%356,7002.6%
Unemployed people578,300600,60022,3003.9%77,90014.9%
Unemployment rate3.9%4.1%0.1 ptsna0.4 ptsna
Underemployment rate6.5%6.6%0.1 ptsna0.5 ptsna
Participation rate66.8%66.8%0.0 ptsna0.1 ptsna
Monthly hours worked in all jobs 1,920 million 1,871 million-49 million-2.5%13 million0.7%

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.

For definitions of labour statistics used in this publication, please refer to Glossary of Labour Force, Australia methodology.

Survey impacts and changes

Articles

The ABS has included Insights into job attachment, January 2024, given the interest in understanding the number of people in January waiting to start or return to a job.

The ABS has also included Improvements to Labour Force estimation method to provide further information on the upcoming improvements to the Labour Force estimation method, which will be implemented in the February 2024 release on 21 March 2024. The article also includes information on the expected extent of revisions from this changes.

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

Impacts from floods in Queensland

Flooding in Queensland in January 2024 resulted in some disruption to the operation of the Labour Force Survey. However, an extensive assessment has concluded that sufficient data was able to be collected and imputation was not required.

Given the intermittent but regular impact of extreme weather events, the ABS continues to monitor the impacts on collection activities and apply methodological treatments where required. 

Upcoming improvements to the Labour Force estimation method in early 2024

As part of ongoing improvements to the estimation method for Labour Force statistics, the ABS will make some minor changes in how it accounts for some relatively small population groups within the sample.

There are various small groups, which together account for less than 2 per cent of the overall sample, who are more difficult to survey each month, contribute a higher degree of underlying sampling variability, and for whom there is more reliable auxiliary data sources (e.g. regular administrative data). This includes some people who don’t live in private dwellings and some people who live in remote and very remote parts of Australia.

As noted in recent Labour Force releases, ABS research and analysis has shown that estimation models that draw on auxiliary data for these groups produce a better quality contribution for them to aggregate Labour Force statistics.

The ABS will introduce the new method with the February 2024 release (and quarterly population rebenchmarking revisions) on 21 March 2024. Further information on this estimation improvements can be found in Improvements to Labour Force estimation method.

 

New Labour Force Survey sample phase-in

Since July 2018, the Labour Force Survey sample has been selected using information collected in the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.  The quality of the Labour Force sample is maintained by updating it with information from the most recent Census.

From September 2023, the sample frame has been updated with information from the 2021 Census, with sample selection from the new sample being phased in over eight months from September 2023 to April 2024.

This update is expected to have minimal impact on sample selection, and as with previous sample changes, will be monitored.

For more information please refer to Sample Design of Labour Force, Australia Methodology.

Update on enhanced regional labour market data

As part of ongoing improvements to the estimation method for Labour Force statistics, the ABS is also developing improved monthly regional labour force estimates.

An information paper was released on 30 October 2023, containing new SA4 level estimates, alongside a research paper, A Rao-Yu model for small area estimation of labour force statistics, with additional details on the time series model used to produce these estimates.

The first monthly release of the new modelled SA4 estimates will be in early May 2024, one week after the release of March 2024 issue of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, with March 2024 being the latest month of data available.

Survey response and timeline

The January Labour Force Survey was run in respect of the two weeks from Sunday 31 December to Saturday 13 January, and collected over the period from Sunday 7 January to Saturday 27 January.

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

Reference and Enumeration Dates
PublicationStart of Reference WeekEnd of Reference WeekStart of EnumerationEnd of Enumeration
Dec-2326th November 20239th December 20233rd December 202320th December 2023
Jan-2431st December 202313th January 20247th January 202427th January 2024
Feb-244th February 202417th February 202411th February 20242nd March 2024
Mar-243rd March 202416th March 202410th March 202430th March 2024
Apr-2431st March 202413th April 20247th April 202427th April 2024
May-2428th April 202411th May 20245th May 202425th May 2024

Unemployment

In trend terms, in January 2024:

  • unemployment rate remained at 3.9%.
  • unemployed people increased by 5,200 to 581,600. 
  • youth unemployment rate remained at 9.4%.

Large month-to-month changes occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in multiple trend breaks. The ABS recommends caution when using trend estimates published in spreadsheets in this release for this period. Information on trend breaks can be found in Labour Force, Australia methodology, January  2024.

Employment

In trend terms, in January 2024, employment increased by 7,400 people (0.1%) to 14,221,900 people.

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 January 2024, the net change in the number of employed people is the result of around 424,000 people entering employment (i.e. they were not employed in December 2023 but were employed in January 2024), while around 836,000 people left employment (i.e. they were employed in December 2023 but not employed in January 2024). This contrasts with December 2023, where around 455,000 people entered employment and around 459,000 people left employment.

Large month-to-month changes occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in multiple trend breaks. The ABS recommends caution when using trend estimates published in spreadsheets in this release for this period. Information on trend breaks can be found in Labour Force, Australia methodology, January 2024.

Full-time and part-time employment

In trend terms, in January 2024:

  • full-time employment decreased by 4,600 to 9,825,300 people, and part-time employment increased by 12,000 to 4,396,600 people.
  • part-time share of employment was 30.9%.

 

Employment-to-population ratio

In trend terms, in January 2024, the employment-to-population ratio deceased to 64.1%.

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

Large month-to-month changes occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in multiple trend breaks. The ABS recommends caution when using trend estimates published in spreadsheets in this release for this period. Information on trend breaks can be found in Labour Force, Australia methodology, January 2024.

Hours worked

In trend terms, in January 2024, monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 9.6 million hours (-0.5%) to 1,906 million hours.

Large month-to-month changes occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in multiple trend breaks. The ABS recommends caution when using trend estimates published in spreadsheets in this release for this period. Information on trend breaks can be found in Labour Force, Australia methodology, January 2024.

Participation

In trend terms, in January 2024, the participation rate:

  • decreased to 66.8%.
  • decreased to 71.1% for men and remained at 62.6% for women.

Large month-to-month changes occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in multiple trend breaks. The ABS recommends caution when using trend estimates published in spreadsheets in this release for this period. Information on trend breaks can be found in Labour Force, Australia methodology, January 2024.

Underemployment

In trend terms, in January 2024:

  • underemployment rate increased to 6.6%.
  • underutilisation rate increased to 10.5%.

Large month-to-month changes occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in multiple trend breaks. The ABS recommends caution when using trend estimates published in spreadsheets in this release for this period. Information on trend breaks can be found in Labour Force, Australia methodology, January 2024.

States and Territories

January 2024 - Trend
New South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaNorthern TerritoryAustralian Capital TerritoryAustralia
Employed people4,420,9003,689,3002,885,100948,6001,591,200285,000140,100266,20014,221,900
Employed people - monthly change0.1%0.0%0.2%-0.2%0.2%-0.2%0.4%-0.3%0.1%
Employment to population ratio63.7%64.6%63.8%61.1%66.7%59.2%70.8%69.3%64.1%
Employment to population ratio - monthly change-0.1 pts-0.1 pts0.0 pts-0.2 pts-0.1 pts-0.2 pts0.2 pts-0.4 pts-0.1 pts
Unemployment rate3.7%4.0%4.3%3.9%4.0%4.2%4.4%3.9%3.9%
Unemployment rate - monthly change0.1 pts0.0 pts0.0 pts0.1 pts0.1 pts0.0 pts0.1 pts0.1 pts0.0 pts
Underemployment rate6.5%6.8%6.9%7.6%6.0%6.8%3.9%5.3%6.6%
Underemployment rate - monthly change0.0 pts0.1 pts0.0 pts0.0 pts0.0 pts0.1 pts-0.1 pts0.2 pts0.0 pts
Participation rate66.2%67.3%66.7%63.6%69.5%61.8%74.1%72.1%66.8%
Participation rate - monthly change0.0 pts-0.1 pts0.0 pts-0.2 pts0.0 pts-0.2 pts0.3 pts-0.3 pts-0.1 pts
January 2024 - Seasonally adjusted
New South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaNorthern TerritoryAustralian Capital TerritoryAustralia
Employed people4,397,1003,682,9002,885,300945,9001,587,300282,900140,800263,10014,201,300
Employed people - monthly change-0.5%0.1%0.1%0.0%0.0%-1.8%0.5%-1.5%0.0%
Employment to population ratio63.4%64.5%63.8%60.9%66.5%58.8%71.2%68.5%64.1%
Employment to population ratio - monthly change-0.5 pts-0.1 pts-0.1 pts-0.1 pts-0.2 pts-1.1 pts0.2 pts-1.2 pts-0.1 pts
Unemployment rate4.1%3.9%4.2%4.0%4.2%4.5%3.9%4.3%4.1%
Unemployment rate - monthly change0.6 pts-0.1 pts-0.1 pts0.1 pts0.3 pts0.9 pts-0.6 pts0.4 pts0.1 pts
Underemployment rate6.6%7.0%6.8%7.7%6.0%6.7%3.4%5.5%6.6%
Underemployment rate - monthly change0.0 pts0.8 pts-0.5 pts0.1 pts-0.3 pts-0.3 pts-1.0 pts0.5 pts0.1 pts
Participation rate66.1%67.2%66.6%63.4%69.4%61.6%74.1%71.5%66.8%
Participation rate - monthly change0.0 pts-0.2 pts-0.1 pts-0.1 pts0.0 pts-0.6 pts-0.2 pts-1.0 pts0.0 pts

Historical charts

Historical charts for employed, unemployed, unemployment rate and participation rate from August 1966 to January 2024

Historical Labour Force estimates of employment, unemployment rate, and participation rate from the historical quarterly and monthly Labour Force Survey.

Prior to 1978 the historical Labour Force Survey was collected quarterly; the current Labour Force Survey is collected monthly. Please refer to the history of changes to see the differences between the historical and current Labour Force Survey.