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
October 2021

Key statistics

Seasonally adjusted estimates for October 2021:

  • Unemployment rate increased to 5.2%.
  • Participation rate increased to 64.7%.
  • Employment decreased to 12,835,200.
  • Employment to population ratio decreased to 61.3%.
  • Underemployment rate increased to 9.5%.
  • Monthly hours worked decreased by 1 million hours.
Sep-2021Oct-2021Monthly changeMonthly change (%)Yearly changeYearly change (%)
Seasonally adjusted
Employed people12,881,50012,835,200-46,300-0.4%94,1000.7%
Unemployed people625,500707,30081,80013.1%-242,300-25.5%
Unemployment rate4.6%5.2%0.6 ptsna-1.7 ptsna
Underemployment rate9.2%9.5%0.3 ptsna-0.9 ptsna
Participation rate64.5%64.7%0.1 ptsna-1.0 ptsna
Monthly hours worked in all jobs 1,729 million 1,727 million-1 million-0.1%-6 million-0.4%

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

Hours worked - insights and additional data

The ABS is continuing to publish insights into hours worked each month, given the lockdowns and restrictions across Australia. This analysis provides insights into changes in total hours worked and also people working reduced or no hours.

Given the extent of changes around lockdowns, the ABS has also included data cubes EM2a and EM2b in today’s release. These data cubes are usually only released in Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, but will also 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. 

Unemployment and job loss in Australia during the COVID-19 period

Understanding how COVID-19 support is reflected in Labour Force statistics

Upcoming revisions to estimates of the number of employed short-term non-residents in the Labour Account

Seasonal adjustment and trend estimates

Survey response and timeline

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 October 2021:

  • The unemployment rate increased by 0.6 pts to 5.2%
  • The unemployment rate was less than 0.1 pts below March 2020
  • Unemployed people increased by 81,800 to 707,300 
  • Unemployed people was 15,900 lower than March 2020
  • The youth unemployment rate increased by 2.3 pts to 13.1%
  • The youth unemployment rate was 1.5 pts higher than March 2020


In seasonally adjusted terms, in October 2021:

  • Employment decreased by 46,300 people (0.4%) to 12,835,200 people
  • Employment was 160,300 people (1.2%) lower than March 2020


Flows into and out of employment

Full-time and part-time employment

In seasonally adjusted terms, in October 2021:

  • Full-time employment decreased by 40,400 to 8,941,200 people, and part-time employment decreased by 5,900 to 3,894,000 people
  • The part-time share of employment was 30.3%, 1.4 pts lower than in March 2020


Employment-to-population ratio

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

  • Decreased by 0.3 pts to 61.3%
  • Lower than March 2020 by 1.1 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 October 2021, monthly hours worked in all jobs:

  • ​​​​​Decreased by 1.5 million hours (0.1%) to 1,727 million hours
  • Decreased by 37.8 million hours (2.1%) from March 2020 

See the article Insights into hours worked for more.


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

  • Increased by 0.1 pts to 64.7%

  • Increased by 0.3 pts for men to 69.5% and remained at 60.0% for women

  • Lower than March 2020 by 1.2 pts


In seasonally adjusted terms, in October 2021:

  • The underemployment rate increased by 0.3 pts to 9.5%
  • The underemployment rate was 0.7 pts higher than March 2020 
  • The underutilisation rate increased by 0.9 pts to 14.7%

States and territories

October 2021, Seasonally adjusted
New South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaNorthern TerritoryAustralian Capital TerritoryAustralia
Employed people3,953,2003,313,7002,649,700875,9001,422,800261,000133,600221,00012,835,200
Employed people - monthly change0.6%-1.5%-0.3%0.3%-0.3%-0.8%2.8%-2.1%-0.4%
Employment to population ratio59.3%60.9%62.7%59.9%65.7%58.0%69.8%63.9%61.3%
Employment to population ratio - monthly change0.3 pts-0.9 pts-0.3 pts0.1 pts-0.3 pts-0.5 pts1.9 pts-1.5 pts-0.3 pts
Unemployment rate5.4%5.6%5.1%5.3%3.9%5.1%3.9%6.6%5.2%
Unemployment rate - monthly change0.8 pts0.9 pts0.3 pts0.2 pts-0.2 pts0.3 pts-0.3 pts2.5 pts0.6 pts
Underemployment rate10.6%11.3%7.9%8.2%6.3%8.1%6.7%8.2%9.5%
Underemployment rate - monthly change0.4 pts1.3 pts-0.3 pts-0.2 pts-0.9 pts-0.4 pts1.7 pts-0.3 pts0.3 pts
Participation rate62.6%64.6%66.2%63.2%68.4%61.1%72.6%68.4%64.7%
Participation rate - monthly change0.8 pts-0.4 pts-0.1 pts0.3 pts-0.4 pts-0.3 pts1.7 pts0.2 pts0.1 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

Changes to Excel file format on the ABS website

In line with updating to more recent technology formats, the ABS will progressively transition to releasing Excel files in the .XLSX format. This means that timeseries spreadsheets in the suite of labour statistics releases will be progressively upgraded from .XLS files to .XLSX files.

While this change will improve usability, it may also require changes to automated macros or similar programs that users may have in place that call on the current file extension format.

For Labour Force products, this change will take effect from the release of November data on 16 December 2021 and for the release of detailed data on 23 December 2021. Previously released data will not change.

Changes will be reflected in other labour statistics from the following dates:

  • Characteristics of Employment, to be released on 14 December 2021
  • Employee Earnings, to be released on 14 December 2021
  • Working arrangements, to be released on 14 December 2021
  • Job Vacancies, to be released on 12 January 2022
  • Employee Earnings and Hours, to be released on 19 January 2022
  • Average Weekly Earnings, to be released on 24 February 2022
  • Labour Account, to be released on 9 March 2022
  • Industrial Disputes, to be released on 10 March 2022

Some labour statistics, such as Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia, already publish Excel data in .XLSX format. No changes will be required for those releases.

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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