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
September 2021

Key statistics

Seasonally adjusted estimates for September 2021:

  • Unemployment rate increased to 4.6%.
  • Participation rate decreased to 64.5%.
  • Employment decreased to 12,884,600.
  • Employment to population ratio decreased to 61.5%.
  • Underemployment rate decreased to 9.2%.
  • Monthly hours worked increased by 15 million hours.
Aug-2021Sep-2021Monthly changeMonthly change (%)Yearly changeYearly change (%)
Seasonally adjusted
Employed people13,022,60012,884,600-138,000-1.1%303,5002.4%
Unemployed people617,100626,0008,9001.4%-299,800-32.4%
Unemployment rate4.5%4.6%0.1 ptsna-2.2 ptsna
Underemployment rate9.3%9.2%-0.1 ptsna-2.2 ptsna
Participation rate65.2%64.5%-0.7 ptsna-0.3 ptsna
Monthly hours worked in all jobs 1,714 million 1,729 million15 million0.9%39 million2.3%

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

Improving the estimation of short-term non-residents in the Labour Account

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 September 2021:

  • The unemployment rate increased by 0.1 pts to 4.6%
  • The unemployment rate was 0.6 pts lower than March 2020
  • Unemployed people increased by 8,900 to 626,000 
  • Unemployed people was 97,200 lower than March 2020
  • The youth unemployment rate increased by 0.2 pts to 10.8%
  • The youth unemployment rate was 0.7 pts lower than March 2020


In seasonally adjusted terms, in September 2021:

  • Employment decreased by 138,000 people (1.1%) to 12,884,600 people
  • Employment was 110,900 people (0.9%) lower than March 2020


Flows into and out of employment

Full-time and part-time employment

In seasonally adjusted terms, in September 2021:

  • Full-time employment increased by 26,700 to 8,983,200 people, and part-time employment decreased by 164,700 to 3,901,400 people
  • The part-time share of employment was 30.3%, 1.5 pts lower than in March 2020


Employment-to-population ratio

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

  • Decreased by 0.7 pts to 61.5%
  • Lower than March 2020 by 0.8 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 September 2021, monthly hours worked in all jobs:

  • ​​​​​Increased by 15.0 million hours (0.9%) to 1,729 million hours
  • Decreased by 36.0 million hours (2.0%) from March 2020 

See the article Insights into hours worked for more.


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

  • Decreased by 0.7 pts to 64.5%

  • Decreased by 0.8 pts for men to 69.3% and decreased by 0.5 pts for women to 60.0%

  • Lower than March 2020 by 1.3 pts


In seasonally adjusted terms, in September 2021:

  • The underemployment rate decreased by 0.1 pts to 9.2%
  • The underemployment rate was 0.4 pts higher than March 2020 
  • The underutilisation rate increased by less than 0.1 pts to 13.9%

States and territories

September 2021, Seasonally adjusted
New South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaNorthern TerritoryAustralian Capital TerritoryAustralia
Employed people3,931,5003,366,5002,657,500873,5001,427,200263,100130,000225,90012,884,600
Employed people - monthly change-0.6%-3.5%1.2%-0.1%0.3%0.4%-0.4%-3.2%-1.1%
Employment to population ratio59.0%61.9%63.0%59.7%66.0%58.5%67.9%65.4%61.5%
Employment to population ratio - monthly change-0.4 pts-2.2 pts0.7 pts-0.1 pts0.1 pts0.2 pts-0.4 pts-2.2 pts-0.7 pts
Unemployment rate4.6%4.8%4.9%5.1%4.1%4.8%4.2%4.1%4.6%
Unemployment rate - monthly change-0.2 pts0.7 pts-0.5 pts0.2 pts-0.4 pts-0.7 pts0.8 pts0.5 pts0.1 pts
Underemployment rate10.2%10.0%8.2%8.4%7.2%8.5%5.0%8.5%9.2%
Underemployment rate - monthly change0.0 pts0.9 pts-0.2 pts0.4 pts0.3 pts0.1 pts-1.7 pts1.4 pts-0.1 pts
Participation rate61.8%65.0%66.2%63.0%68.8%61.4%70.9%68.2%64.5%
Participation rate - monthly change-0.6 pts-1.9 pts0.4 pts0.0 pts-0.2 pts-0.3 pts0.2 pts-1.9 pts-0.7 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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