Latest release

Labour Force, Australia

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

Reference period
March 2022
Released
14/04/2022
  • Next Release 19/05/2022
    Labour Force, Australia, April 2022
  • Next Release 16/06/2022
    Labour Force, Australia, May 2022
  • Next Release 14/07/2022
    Labour Force, Australia, June 2022
  • View all releases

Key statistics

Seasonally adjusted estimates for March 2022:

  • unemployment rate remained at 4.0%.
  • participation rate remained at 66.4%.
  • employment increased to 13,389,900.
  • employment to population ratio remained at 63.8%.
  • underemployment rate decreased to 6.3%.
  • monthly hours worked decreased by 10 million hours.
Feb-2022Mar-2022Monthly changeMonthly change (%)Yearly changeYearly change (%)
Seasonally adjusted
Employed people13,372,00013,389,90017,9000.1%338,3002.6%
Unemployed people563,300551,300-12,100-2.1%-236,700-30.0%
Unemployment rate4.0%4.0%-0.1 ptsna-1.7 ptsna
Underemployment rate6.6%6.3%-0.2 ptsna-1.6 ptsna
Participation rate66.4%66.4%0.0 ptsna0.1 ptsna
Monthly hours worked in all jobs 1,813 million 1,803 million-10 million-0.6%-1 million-0.1%

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
  • the labour market before the monthly Labour Force Survey commenced in 1978

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 22 April 2022 (see Microdata: Longitudinal Labour Force, Australia).

Impact of floods in New South Wales and Queensland

Flooding in New South Wales and Queensland in late February 2022 resulted in a major disruption to the operation of the Labour Force Survey. As a result, there was lower than usual numbers of responding households in some of the affected regions in March 2022.

Given the severity of these disruptions and to ensure that this loss of sample did not affect data for Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, the ABS imputed some sample within the following 15 statistical area level 4 (SA4s) regions for March 2022:

  • Central Coast
  • Coffs Harbour - Grafton
  • Richmond - Tweed
  • Sydney - Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury
  • Sydney - Blacktown
  • Sydney - Inner South West
  • Sydney - Outer West and Blue Mountains
  • Sydney - South West
  • Brisbane - South
  • Brisbane - West
  • Brisbane Inner City
  • Darling Downs - Maranoa
  • Ipswich
  • Logan - Beaudesert
  • Toowoomba

This imputation approach drew upon previous information that had recently been collected from people in the affected areas, following the approach used for February 2019 for the Townsville Flood. For March 2022, the ABS also used some hours-related information for populations in affected areas and adjacent areas to account for the impact on hours worked (which is where labour market impacts from floods, bushfires and cyclones are generally observed, more than changes in employment or unemployment).

For March 2022, 2.9% of the sample was imputed using this approach (5.6% of the sample in New South Wales and 9.2% of the sample in Queensland).

The imputation approach will be re-assessed once April data has been collected from the affected areas. For the Townsville Flood, the ABS re-assessed the imputation approach used for February 2019 in the following month, and confirmed that revisions were not required.  

Data for the above SA4s for March 2022 will not be published in Labour Force, Australia, Detailed on the 21st April. The ABS expects to resume publishing these estimates with the release of April data in May 2022.

Users of the matched sample analysis should also exercise some caution when looking at New South Wales and Queensland data between February and March, given the effect of the imputation for these two states.

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

The March Labour Force Survey was run in respect of the two weeks from Sunday 27 February to Saturday 12 March, and collected over the period from Sunday 6 March to Saturday 26 March.

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
Feb-2230th January 202212th February 20226th February 202226th February 2022
Mar-2227th February 202212th March 20226th March 202226th March 2022
Apr-223rd April 202216th April 202210th April 202230th April 2022
May-221st May 202214th May 20228th May 202228th May 2022
Jun-2229th May 202211th June 20225th June 202225th June 2022
Jul-223rd July 202216th July 202210th July 202230th July 2022

Unemployment

In seasonally adjusted terms, in March 2022:

  • unemployment rate remained at 4.0%.
  • unemployment rate was 1.3 pts below March 2020.
  • unemployed people decreased by 12,100 to 551,300. 
  • unemployed people was 172,000 lower than March 2020.
  • youth unemployment rate decreased by 1.0 pts to 8.3%.
  • youth unemployment rate was 3.3 pts lower than March 2020.

Employment

In seasonally adjusted terms, in March 2022:

  • employment increased by 17,900 people (0.1%) to 13,389,900 people.
  • employment was 394,400 people (3.0%) 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 March 2022, the net change in the number of employed people is the result of around 452,000 people entering employment (i.e. they were not employed in February but were employed in March), while around 479,000 people left employment (i.e. they were employed in February but were not employed in March). This contrasts with February 2022 where around 721,000 people entered employment and around 386,000 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.

Full-time and part-time employment

In seasonally adjusted terms, in March 2022:

  • full-time employment increased by 20,500 to 9,248,600 people, and part-time employment decreased by 2,700 to 4,141,300 people.
  • part-time share of employment was 30.9%, 0.8 pts lower than in March 2020.

 

Employment-to-population ratio

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

  • remained at 63.8%.
  • was 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 March 2022, monthly hours worked in all jobs:

  • ​​​​decreased by 10.2 million hours (0.6%) to 1,803 million hours.
  • increased by 38.2 million hours (2.2%) from March 2020.

See the article Insights into hours worked for more.

Participation

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

  • remained at 66.4%.

  • increased by 0.1 pts for men to 70.8% and decreased by 0.2 pts to 62.2% for women.

  • was higher than March 2020 by 0.6 pts.

Underemployment

In seasonally adjusted terms, in March 2022:

  • underemployment rate decreased by 0.2 pts to 6.3%.
  • underemployment rate was 2.5 pts lower than March 2020. 
  • underutilisation rate decreased by 0.3 pts to 10.3%.
  • underutilisation rate was 3.8 pts lower than March 2020.

States and Territories

March 2022, Seasonally adjusted
New South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaNorthern TerritoryAustralian Capital TerritoryAustralia
Employed people4,214,9003,481,2002,720,400883,4001,464,100261,700130,800235,40013,389,900
Employed people - monthly change0.0%-0.1%0.3%0.4%0.5%-1.5%-1.4%0.5%0.1%
Employment to population ratio62.9%64.3%63.9%60.4%67.4%58.2%68.9%68.8%63.8%
Employment to population ratio - monthly change-0.1 pts0.0 pts0.1 pts0.2 pts0.3 pts-0.9 pts-1.0 pts0.3 pts0.0 pts
Unemployment rate3.9%4.0%4.0%4.9%3.4%4.5%4.1%3.4%4.0%
Unemployment rate - monthly change0.2 pts-0.1 pts-0.3 pts-0.1 pts-0.7 pts0.6 pts0.5 pts0.4 pts-0.1 pts
Underemployment rate6.1%5.7%7.0%7.7%6.7%6.7%5.1%4.6%6.3%
Underemployment rate - monthly change-0.4 pts-0.3 pts-0.3 pts0.1 pts-0.1 pts-1.4 pts-1.0 pts-0.5 pts-0.2 pts
Participation rate65.5%67.0%66.6%63.5%69.7%60.9%71.9%71.2%66.4%
Participation rate - monthly change0.1 pts-0.1 pts-0.1 pts0.2 pts-0.3 pts-0.6 pts-0.7 pts0.6 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
February outgoing rotation groupMarch incoming rotation groupMarch outgoing rotation groupMarch estimate (Original)
Employment to population ratio62.6%63.4%63.1%63.8%
Full-time employment to population ratio43.6%44.5%42.8%44.0%
Unemployment rate4.3%4.8%3.9%4.2%
Participation rate65.4%66.6%65.7%66.6%

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 groups since 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

Unemployment and underemployment

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6202.0.