Australian unemployment rises for the first time in 10 months

The unemployment rate in Australia rose slightly in August, even as the number of Australians with multiple jobs reached an all-time high.

Labor market data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicate that the seasonally adjusted employment rate is now 3.5 percent.

“With employment increasing by 33,000 people and unemployment by 14,000, the unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage point to 3.5 percent in August, returning to the same rate it was in June,” said Lauren Ford, head of labor statistics. at the ABS.

The participation rate has also grown to 66.6 percent, 0.7 percentage point higher than before the pandemic.

The underutilization rate, which combines unemployment and underemployment rates, remained at 9.4 percent.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) had the lowest unemployment rate at 2.7 percent, followed by Western Australia (3.1 percent) and NSW (3.4 percent).

While the unemployment rate has returned to the figure recorded in June, there are more Australians than ever with multiple jobs. A record 900,000 job holders who have more than one job account for 6.5 percent of all workers in the economy.

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Ms. Ford explained: “This is the highest percentage since the start of the quarterly series in 1994, and about 0.5 percentage point above pre-pandemic levels.”

Seasonally adjusted hours also showed a slight increase of 0.8 percent in August, reversing last month’s decline, although it remains higher than usual figures for the end of winter.

“The increase in employment and hours in August came after the winter school holidays and flooding in New South Wales where we saw more people working than usual in July, fewer hours,” noted Ms Ford.

“COVID-19 and other illness-related employee absences were still reflected in hours worked in August. The number of people who are working less due to illness remained high in August, at about 760,000 people. This is about double the amount we normally see at the end of winter.”

These numbers will likely be closely watched by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which has raised interest rates for five months in a row. The rate currently stands at 2.35%.

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