Australian Employment Holds Steady with Slight Dip in September

In the latest release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Labour Force, Australia, for September 2023, the unemployment rate in Australia decreased by 0.1 percentage point to 3.6%, according to seasonally adjusted data.

Kate Lamb, ABS Head of Labour Statistics, highlighted that while employment saw a modest increase of around 7,000 people and the number of unemployed individuals dropped by approximately 20,000, the fall in the unemployment rate was primarily due to more people transitioning from being unemployed to not participating in the labor force.

Lamb emphasized that a fall in unemployment doesn’t necessarily equate to significantly higher employment levels. The participation rate, although slightly decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 66.7%, remains well above pre-COVID-19 levels.

Over the past two months, the average monthly employment growth was around 35,000 people, reflecting typical growth seen over the past year. The employment-to-population ratio fell slightly by 0.1 percentage point to 64.4%, returning to its average level for the past 12 months.

In terms of employment and hours worked, monthly hours worked declined by 0.4% in September 2023, following a 0.5% decrease in August. Employment remained relatively flat, rising less than 0.1%. Annual growth in both hours worked and employment was 2.9%, marking the first time since December 2022 that both indicators grew at the same rate.

The underemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to 6.4% in September, still 0.4 percentage points higher than the same month in 2022 but notably lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Combining unemployment and underemployment rates, the underutilisation rate decreased by 0.3 percentage points to 9.9%. Although higher than the previous September, it is significantly lower than the March 2020 level.

In trend terms, the unemployment rate remained at 3.6%, with steady but slowing growth in hours worked since June 2023. The employment-to-population ratio and participation rates, while slightly lower, continue to indicate a tight labor market.

Further detailed information, including regional labor market insights, will be available in the upcoming September 2023 issue of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, scheduled for release on Thursday, October 26, 2023. The ABS expressed gratitude to Australians for their continued support in responding to surveys.