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Unemployment falls to lowest level in 8 years

Australian Bureau of Statistics office

Australia’s unemployment rate has sunk to its lowest level in around eight years, the ABS has revealed, with both full-time and part-time employment increasing in December.

In releasing its monthly unemployment figures for the final month of calendar 2018, the ABS revealed that trend unemployment is now sitting at 5.0 per cent. That was steady on November’s figure, which was revised down.

“The trend unemployment rate decreased [by] 0.5 [of a percentage point] through 2018, and is now sitting at its lowest level since May 2011,” the bureau’s chief economist, Bruce Hockman, said.

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Trend employment saw a gain of 23,100 for the month, with a virtually even split between full-time (11,800) and part-time (11,200) jobs.

It pushed the number of employed Australians up by 2.3 per cent over the full year — above the 20-year average of 2.0 per cent.

Most states and territories saw unemployment remain steady over the month, although it decreased in Victoria but jumped in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

The glowing employment figures were offset somewhat by a slight increase in the underemployment rate, which edged up by 0.1 of a percentage point to 8.4 per cent. The underutilisation rate remained steady at 13.4 per cent.

The participation rate, or proportion of all Australians currently employed or actively looking for work, remained steady at 65.6 per cent.

December also saw an increase in the number of hours worked across all jobs, rising by 1.1 per cent from the previous month and 1.5 per cent from the same month a year earlier to hit 1,759,900,000 (just under 1.76 billion).

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My Business recently revealed that most SMEs are planning to avoid additional hires in the year ahead, but employers have been warned that slowing migration and more Baby Boomers retiring from the workforce will put pressure on future recruitment.

It also comes amid a separate report that Australian wage growth is likely to lag behind the rest of the world in 2019.

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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