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Unemployment hits record low, but less people looking for work

While the unemployment figure dropped to 3.9 per cent, only 4,000 new jobs were created and 7,000 people gave up looking for work according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Unemployment hits record low, but less people looking for work
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The decrease in people actively looking for work is a concern from small businesses still struggling with chronic staff shortages.

The data also showed that around 740,000 people worked reduced hours in April because of illness, almost double the number in April before the pandemic. Of these people, around 340,000 worked no hours, which was around triple what would be normally seen.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April 2022 was 3.9 per cent, according to the ABS.

Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said in April, employment rose by 4,000 people and unemployment fell by 11,000 people.

“As a result, the unemployment rate decreased slightly in April, though remained level, in rounded terms, with the revised March rate of 3.9 per cent,” he said.

The unemployment rate for males fell by 0.2 percentage points to 4.0 per cent, its lowest level since October 2008. For females, it remained at 3.7 per cent for a second month, which is the lowest it has been since May 1974.

The participation rate also decreased in April, down by 0.1 percentage points to 66.3 per cent, but remained close to the historical highs in February and March.

Matt Grudnoff, senior economist at the Australia Institute said the ABS statistics revealed that more people gave up looking for work than found a job in the last quarter, contributing to the lion’s share of this minor drop in the headline unemployment rate.

“The unemployment rate is the tip of the economic iceberg. To get a full picture for how the economy and society are going, we need to look at all the statistics, including the participation rate, hours worked, security of employment and real wages growth,” he said.

“Today’s figures underscore the fact that low unemployment is not stimulating wage growth, and government intervention is required.”

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April 2022 was 3.9 per cent, according to data.

The figures reveal that NSW and Queensland had the biggest uptick in the hours worked after a dramatic drop in April due to flooding.

The number of people working fewer hours than usual due to bad weather dropped from its March peak of over 500,000 to around 70,000 people in April.

The underemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 6.1 per cent and the underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, decreased 0.3 percentage points to 10.0 per cent.

Innes Willox, chief executive of the national employer association Ai Group, said the further inroads into unemployment and underemployment recorded in April highlighted the key benefits of the current period of wage moderation.

“More people are in work and more people are getting the hours of work they are looking for due to the sustainability of wages growth,” he said.

“While inflation is putting pressure on household budgets, falling unemployment and underemployment and very strong growth in full-time employment, is materially assisting household budgets. It is critical that we stick to this path and create more opportunities for employment in the months ahead.”

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