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
May 2021

Key statistics

Seasonally adjusted estimates for May 2021:

  • Unemployment rate decreased to 5.1%.
  • Participation rate increased to 66.2%.
  • Employment increased to 13,125,100.
  • Employment to population ratio increased to 62.8%.
  • Underemployment rate decreased to 7.4%.
  • Monthly hours worked increased by 25 million hours.
Apr-2021May-2021Monthly changeMonthly change (%)Yearly changeYearly change (%)
Seasonally adjusted
Employed people13,010,00013,125,100115,2000.9%987,2008.1%
Unemployed people754,100701,100-53,000-7.0%-215,400-23.5%
Unemployment rate5.5%5.1%-0.4 ptsna-1.9 ptsna
Underemployment rate7.8%7.4%-0.3 ptsna-5.5 ptsna
Participation rate65.9%66.2%0.3 ptsna3.6 ptsna
Monthly hours worked in all jobs 1,789 million 1,814 million25 million1.4%208 million13.0%

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

Quarterly rebenchmarking of labour force statistics

How the end of JobKeeper will be reflected in April and May Labour Force statistics

Seasonal adjustment and trend estimates

Survey response and timeline

October 2021 Labour Force statistics will be released on 11 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 May 2021:

  • The unemployment rate decreased by 0.4 pts to 5.1%
  • The unemployment rate was 1.9 pts lower than May 2020, and 0.2 pts lower than March 2020
  • Unemployed people decreased by 53,000 to 701,100 
  • Unemployed people decreased by 215,400 from May 2020 and was 22,400 lower than March 2020
  • The youth unemployment rate increased by 0.1 pts to 10.7%
  • The youth unemployment rate was 5.1 pts lower than May 2020, and 0.9 pts lower than March 2020


In seasonally adjusted terms, in May 2021:

  • Employment increased by 115,200 people (0.9%) to 13,125,100 people
  • Over the year to May 2021, employment increased by 987,200 people (8.1%)
  • Employment was 130,400 people (1.0%) higher than March 2020

Flows into and out of employment

Full-time and part-time employment

In seasonally adjusted terms, in May 2021:

  • Full-time employment increased by 97,500 to 8,965,200 people, and part-time employment increased by 17,700 to 4,160,000 people
  • Over the year to May 2021, full-time employment increased by 421,300 people and part-time employment increased by 565,900 people
  • The part-time share of employment was 31.7%, 0.1 pts lower than in March 2020 and 2.1 pts higher than this time last year.


Employment-to-population ratio

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

  • Increased by 0.5 pts to 62.8%
  • Increased by 4.6 pts from the same time last year, and was 0.5 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 May 2021, monthly hours worked in all jobs :

  • ​​​​​Increased by 25.2 million hours (1.4%) to 1,814 million hours
  • Increased by 13.0% over the year, which is larger than the 8.1% increase in employed people
  • Increased 51.6 million hours (2.9%) from March 2020 

See the article Insights into hours worked for more.


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

  • Increased by 0.3 pts to 66.2%

  • Increased by 0.1 pts for men to 70.9% and increased by 0.4 pts for women to 61.7%
  • Increased by 3.6 pts over the year to May 2021, and was 0.3 pts higher than March 2020


In seasonally adjusted terms, in May 2021:

  • The underemployment rate decreased by 0.3 pts to 7.4%
  • The underemployment rate was 5.5 pts lower than May 2020, and 1.4 pts lower than March 2020 
  • The underutilisation rate decreased by 0.7 pts to 12.5%

States and territories

May 2021, Seasonally adjusted
New South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaNorthern TerritoryAustralian Capital TerritoryAustralia
Employed people4,164,0003,453,7002,644,600871,1001,391,800259,600131,300238,20013,125,100
Employed people - monthly change1.8%0.9%1.2%0.8%0.1%0.7%-0.1%0.1%0.9%
Employment to population ratio62.7%63.4%63.0%59.6%64.6%57.9%69.1%69.2%62.8%
Employment to population ratio - monthly change1.1 pts0.5 pts0.7 pts0.4 pts0.0 pts0.4 pts-0.1 pts-0.1 pts0.5 pts
Unemployment rate5.0%4.8%5.4%5.8%4.7%5.7%4.5%3.6%5.1%
Unemployment rate - monthly change-0.5 pts-0.7 pts-0.7 pts0.1 pts-0.3 pts-0.5 pts0.7 pts0.2 pts-0.4 pts
Underemployment rate7.3%7.7%7.7%7.8%7.2%9.0%4.5%5.8%7.4%
Underemployment rate - monthly change-0.3 pts0.1 pts-0.8 pts-0.5 pts0.1 pts0.4 pts-0.7 pts0.2 pts-0.3 pts
Participation rate66.0%66.6%66.6%63.3%67.8%61.4%72.4%71.8%66.2%
Participation rate - monthly change0.9 pts0.1 pts0.3 pts0.5 pts-0.2 pts0.1 pts0.4 pts0.1 pts0.3 pts

Rotation group analysis

Sample composition and rotation

Estimates for the incoming and outgoing rotation groups

States and territories

Managing COVID-19 impacts on the incoming rotation groups

Comparability with seasonally adjusted data

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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