19 August 2021

Labour Force July 2021: Unemployment rate falls to 4.6 per cent

Labour force figures released today by the ABS show that seasonally adjusted employment rose by 2,200 in July 2021, at the upper end of market expectations, to stand at a record high of 13,156,400. Employment is now 161,600 (or 1.2 per cent) above its pre-COVID level in March 2020.

The rise in employment over the month was driven by an increase in part-time employment of 6,400. While full-time employment decreased by 4,200 from the record high observed in June 2021, to a level of 9,012,600, it is still 147,400 (or 1.7 per cent) above the level recorded in March 2020.

Male employment rose by 21,500 over the month, to a record high of 6,921,100 in July 2021, and is now 83,900 (or 1.2 per cent) above the level recorded in March 2020. Male full-time employment increased by 9,200 (or 0.2 per cent) to a record high of 5,580,400 in July.

While female employment decreased by 19,400 in July, it remains 77,700 (or 1.3 per cent) above the level recorded in March 2020.

The level of unemployment in Australia fell by 39,900 (or 5.9 per cent) over the month, to 639,200 in July 2021, and is now 84,300 (or 11.7 per cent) below the level recorded in March 2020.

The unemployment rate also declined over the month, by 0.3 percentage points, to 4.6 per cent, the ninth consecutive monthly decrease and the lowest rate recorded since December 2008.

The participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage points in July, to 66.0 per cent, and is 0.1 percentage points above the rate recorded in March 2020.

The youth unemployment rate remained steady at 10.2 per cent in July, maintaining the equal lowest rate recorded since January 2009.

The numbers show the economic supports for individuals and for businesses enacted by the Morrison Government are working.

Reflecting the Government’s concern about rising COVID-19 cases and ongoing lockdowns, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment has been instigated, which will help support workers across every state and territory who lose hours of work, due to a state government lockdown or public health order.

In addition, the Commonwealth has expanded the COVID-19 Business Support Payment through agreements with states and territories.

The payment will provide more substantial support for businesses, to cover unavoidable costs, such as rent, insurance and maintenance, as well as employee costs during an extended lockdown.

The expanded support will continue to be conditional upon businesses maintaining their employee headcount as at 13 July (covering permanent and long-term casual employees) by not taking active steps to terminate their employment.

Crucially, this will help maintain the connection between employers and employees and, in doing so, will support the economic and labour market recovery once restrictions are eased.

The Commonwealth Government will be providing business support for all states and territories, in recognition of the impact of lockdowns and will continue to deliver temporary, targeted and proportionate economic and labour market assistance, which will help support Australians through the pandemic.