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Unemployment highest in 19 years, but signs of jobs recovery

Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores
18 June 2020 1 minute readShare

The unemployment rate is at its highest level in 19 years; however, there are hopeful signs with monthly growth in job advertisements for the first time since March.

New Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures revealed the unemployment rate for May increased by 0.7 of a percentage point to 7.1 per cent. It is the highest unemployment rate since October 2001.

May unemployment increased by 0.7 of a percentage point from a revised 6.4 per cent in April and 5.2 per cent in March, the ABS said.

The bureau noted the size of the increase in the unemployment rate in May was reduced by larger-than-usual numbers of employed and unemployed people leaving the labour force. 

The unemployment rate was reflected in a further fall in the participation rate, down by 0.7 of a percentage point to 62.9 per cent. The last time the participation rate was below 63 per cent was in January 2001.

“The drop in employment, of close to a quarter of a million people, added to the 600,000 in April, brings the total fall to 835,000 people since March,” said ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis.

“The ABS estimates that a combined group of around 2.3 million people — around one in five employed people — were affected by either job loss between April and May or had less hours than usual for economic reasons in May.”

Job advertisement figures reveal signs of hope

The latest SEEK Employment data revealed a 39.7 per cent month-on-month growth in jobs advertised.

Industries contributing most significantly to month-on-month job ad growth were hospitality and tourism (up by 138 per cent), trades and services (up by 36 per cent), and manufacturing, transport and logistics (up by 33 per cent).

However, SEEK job ads are down by 52.5 per cent year-on-year despite all states showing month-on-month growth.

South Australia led the way with 52.4 per cent monthly growth, followed by Tasmania (51.3 per cent), Queensland (48.4 per cent), Victoria (48.1 per cent), Western Australia (39.1 per cent), Northern Territory (38.9 per cent), New South Wales (31.1 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (21.0 per cent).

“We continued to see promising signs within the employment market during May, with all states and most industry sectors showing positive month-on-month job ad growth,” said SEEK ANZ managing director Kendra Banks.

“Looking at the states, it’s interesting to see Victorian job ads bouncing back at a faster rate than New South Wales, despite easing restrictions at a later date and maintaining strict social isolation measures.

“And while their state borders remained closed, Queensland is also showing signs of improvement, with job ads growing at 48.4 per cent month-on-month.”

Unemployment highest in 19 years, but signs of jobs recovery
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Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is the deputy editor of MyBusiness. Before that, he was the deputy editor for SMSF Adviser as well as features editor for ifa (Independent Financial Adviser), InvestorDaily, Risk Adviser, Fintech Business and Adviser Innovation.

You can email Adrian at [email protected].

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