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April saw 3.7% unemployment – and Australians working more hours

Data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics saw the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage point (rounded) to 3.7 per cent in April.

Bjorn Jarvis, ABS head of labour statistics, said: “with employment dropping by around 4,000 people and the number of unemployed increasing by 18,000 people, the unemployment rate rose to 3.7 per cent.”

“The small fall in employment followed an average monthly increase of around 39,000 people during the first quarter of this year.”

“Even with these falls, both indicators were still well above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels and close to their historical highs in 2022,” Mr Jarvis said.

The data also showed that Australians worked more hours in April and didn’t take as much Easter leave as in previous years, with the monthly hours worked increasing by 2.6 per cent. According to the ABS, the last time Easter and the survey period aligned like this was in 2015.

“This may reflect more people taking their leave earlier or later than usual, or that some people were unable to, given the high number of vacancies that we’re still seeing employers reporting.”

“The ongoing strength in hours worked over the past six months shows the demand for labour, to some extent, is being met by people working more hours,” Mr Jarvis said.

“In trend terms, the strong growth in hours worked, the high employment-to-population ratio and participation rate, along with the low unemployment and underemployment rates, all still point to a tight labour market,” Mr Jarvis said.

According to a January 2023 report by the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), a whopping 90% of all business were expecting staff shortages in 2023, and 36 % of these expect the shortages to inhibit their business growth.

Paul Miles, Managing Director for The BUSY Group stated, “The BUSY Group work closely with Federal and State government to address our current skills shortage. Some of these strategies include initiatives to support women into non-traditional trades, ensure our mature age workers remain in the workforce and continue to contribute their skills and experience, and developing necessary vocational skills for youth, the unemployed and current employees.

“BUSY offers a range of vocational training, apprenticeships and traineeships, employment programs, and career mentoring support services that support skills and employment growth in Australia.”

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Australian Bureau of Statistics – April Labour Force Figures

Ai Group – Solving the Skills Shortage Issue

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