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 2022

Key statistics

Seasonally adjusted estimates for May 2022:

  • unemployment rate remained at 3.9%.
  • participation rate increased to 66.7%.
  • employment increased to 13,510,900.
  • employment to population ratio increased to 64.1%.
  • underemployment rate decreased to 5.7%.
  • monthly hours worked increased by 17 million hours.
Apr-2022May-2022Monthly changeMonthly change (%)Yearly changeYearly change (%)
Seasonally adjusted
Employed people13,450,30013,510,90060,6000.5%386,1002.9%
Unemployed people540,300548,1007,8001.4%-155,800-22.1%
Unemployment rate3.9%3.9%0.0 ptsna-1.2 ptsna
Underemployment rate6.1%5.7%-0.4 ptsna-1.8 ptsna
Participation rate66.4%66.7%0.3 ptsna0.5 ptsna
Monthly hours worked in all jobs 1,839 million 1,856 million17 million0.9%39 million2.1%

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 
  • 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 24 June 2022 (see Microdata: Longitudinal Labour Force, Australia).

Quarterly rebenchmarking of labour force statistics

The ABS has revised the original Labour Force series from October 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 March 2022 was revised up by around 0.3% (around 62,200 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 has undertaken an ‘Extraordinary Annual Series Review’ of Labour Force series. This review follows 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 the seasonal adjustment process continues to be less influenced by the large month-to-month movements over the past two years, 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).

ABS will continue to monitor the economic impacts from COVID-19 with a view to reverting to the concurrent method when there is no longer significant and prolonged disruption to key series. This could be as early as the second half of 2022.

Survey response and timeline

The May Labour Force Survey was run in respect of the two weeks from Sunday 1 May to Saturday 14 May, and collected over the period from Sunday 8 May to Saturday 28 May.

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
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
Aug-2231st July 202213th August 20227th August 202227th August 2022
Sep-224th September 202217th September 202211th September 20221st October 2022


In seasonally adjusted terms, in May 2022:

  • unemployment rate remained at 3.9%.
  • unemployment rate was 1.3 pts below March 2020.
  • unemployed people increased by 7,800 to 548,100. 
  • unemployed people was 171,200 lower than March 2020.
  • youth unemployment rate remained at 8.8%.
  • youth unemployment rate was 2.8 pts lower than March 2020.


In seasonally adjusted terms, in May 2022:

  • employment increased by 60,600 people (0.5%) to 13,510,900 people.
  • employment was 508,600 people (3.9%) 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 May 2022, the net change in the number of employed people is the result of around 480,000 people entering employment (i.e. they were not employed in April but were employed in May), while around 384,000 people left employment (i.e. they were employed in April but not employed in May). This contrasts with April 2022, where around 561,000 people entered employment and around 489,000 people left employment.

Full-time and part-time employment

In seasonally adjusted terms, in May 2022:

  • full-time employment increased by 69,400 to 9,443,400 people, and part-time employment decreased by 8,700 to 4,067,500 people.
  • part-time share of employment was 30.1%, 1.7 pts lower than in March 2020.


Employment-to-population ratio

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

  • increased to 64.1%.
  • was higher than March 2020 by 1.6 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 May 2022, monthly hours worked in all jobs:

  • ​​​​increased by 16.8 million hours (0.9%) to 1,856 million hours.
  • increased by 86.3 million hours (4.9%) from March 2020.

See the article Insights into hours worked for more.


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

  • increased by 0.3 pts to 66.7%.

  • increased by 0.4 pts for men to 71.2% and increased by 0.1 pts to 62.3% for women.

  • was higher than March 2020 by 0.8 pts.


In seasonally adjusted terms, in May 2022:

  • underemployment rate decreased by 0.4 pts to 5.7%.
  • underemployment rate was 3.1 pts lower than March 2020. 
  • underutilisation rate decreased by 0.3 pts to 9.6%.
  • underutilisation rate was 4.4 pts lower than March 2020.

States and Territories

May 2022, Seasonally adjusted
New South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaNorthern TerritoryAustralian Capital TerritoryAustralia
Employed people4,260,8003,516,0002,766,700886,2001,473,300264,900135,800234,90013,510,900
Employed people - monthly change1.2%-0.4%1.7%0.5%0.3%1.0%1.0%-0.4%0.5%
Employment to population ratio63.6%64.4%64.5%60.3%67.5%58.6%71.3%68.4%64.1%
Employment to population ratio - monthly change0.7 pts-0.2 pts1.0 pts0.2 pts0.1 pts0.6 pts0.7 pts-0.2 pts0.2 pts
Unemployment rate4.0%3.7%4.0%4.6%3.1%4.5%4.1%3.3%3.9%
Unemployment rate - monthly change0.5 pts-0.5 pts-0.5 pts0.1 pts0.2 pts0.7 pts0.0 pts0.2 pts0.0 pts
Underemployment rate5.5%5.8%6.1%6.5%5.5%6.4%5.3%4.3%5.7%
Underemployment rate - monthly change-0.1 pts-0.3 pts0.0 pts-1.1 pts-0.7 pts-0.6 pts-1.4 pts-0.4 pts-0.4 pts
Participation rate66.2%66.9%67.2%63.2%69.6%61.4%74.3%70.7%66.7%
Participation rate - monthly change1.0 pts-0.6 pts0.7 pts0.3 pts0.3 pts1.1 pts0.7 pts-0.1 pts0.3 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
April outgoing rotation groupMay incoming rotation groupMay outgoing rotation groupMay estimate (Original)
Employment to population ratio63.9%65.2%63.3%64.4%
Full-time employment to population ratio45.1%45.3%43.7%44.7%
Unemployment rate3.7%3.9%3.5%3.8%
Participation rate66.4%67.9%65.6%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 April 2022, the incoming rotation group in New South Wales had a higher employment-to-population ratio and a higher participation rate than the group it replaced. These ratios of the incoming rotation group in New South Wales are similar to other rotation groups in New South Wales. 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.

It should be noted that the rotation group with increased samples in October 2021 was the outgoing rotation group in May 2022. It will be replaced with a rotation group with a similar sample size to the rotation groups of the pre-COVID period in June 2022.

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.

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