Australia Maintains Low Unemployment Rate of 3.7 Percent in August

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals that Australia’s unemployment rate held steady at a low 3.7 percent in August, as reported today.

Bjorn Jarvis, the head of labour statistics at ABS, commented on the findings, stating that “despite employment increasing by approximately 65,000 individuals and only a slight drop of around 3,000 in the number of unemployed, the unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent in August.”

The notable surge in employment for August followed a minor dip in July, primarily influenced by the school holiday period. Over the past two months, the average monthly employment growth has stood at around 32,000 individuals, consistent with the yearly average.

Jarvis added, “The employment-to-population ratio increased by 0.1 percentage point to 64.5 percent, near the record high seen in June. The participation rate also rose to a record high of 67.0 percent in August. Together with the high employment-to-population ratio, this reflects a tight labor market.”

Employment and Hours Worked

While monthly hours worked experienced a 0.5 percent decline in August 2023 (following a 0.2 percent increase in July), employment rose by 0.5 percent. Despite the minor decrease in August, hours worked were 3.7 percent higher than in August 2022, demonstrating a growth rate higher than the 3.0 percent annual increase in employment.

Jarvis pointed out, “The strength in hours worked over the past year, relative to employment growth, indicates that the demand for labor continues to be met by people working more hours to some extent.”

Underemployment and Underutilization

The underemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 6.6 percent in August, marking a 0.6 percentage point rise compared to August 2022. Nevertheless, it remained approximately 2.2 percentage points lower than the pre-pandemic level.

The underutilization rate, a combination of unemployment and underemployment rates, rose by 0.1 percentage point to 10.2 percent. This figure was 0.8 percentage points higher than the same period last year but 3.7 percentage points lower than the level recorded in March 2020.

Bjorn Jarvis commented, “While we have witnessed an increase in the underutilization rate over the past year, from its recent low of 9.3 percent in October 2022 to 10.2 percent, it is still significantly below the 14.0 percent rate seen in March 2020. Before the pandemic, the last time it was this low was in September 2008.”

Underlying Trend Data

The trend unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent, consistent with the updated figure for July. In trend terms, employment increased by around 28,000 people (0.2 percent), and hours worked increased by 0.2 percent in August. Over the past year, employment grew by 2.9 percent, while hours worked rose by 4.6 percent.

Jarvis concluded, “In trend terms, all key indicators continue to indicate a tight labor market.”

Additional information, including regional labor market insights, will be available in the forthcoming August 2023 issue of “Labour Force, Australia, Detailed,” scheduled for release on Thursday, September 21, 2023.

The ABS expressed its gratitude to the Australian public for their ongoing support in responding to surveys.