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March Unemployment remains at 3.5 per cent

After the unusually slow employment start to the year with January unemployment rate rising to 3.7% (mainly due to many people transitioning to new jobs that started in February), the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March remained at 3.5 per cent, according to data released recently by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Lauren Ford, ABS head of labour statistics commented, “With employment increasing by around 53,000 people, and the number of unemployed decreasing by 1,600 people, the unemployment rate remained at a near 50-year low of 3.5 per cent.”

Unsurprising to industry and businesses, the ABS confirmed a ‘tight labour market’ with a high employment participation rate (equivalent to the historical highs of November 2022) also contributing to employers finding it hard to fill the high number of job vacancies.

A higher female participation rate in the workforce was reported, also hitting an historical high.

“With consecutive months of strong growth in female employment (up 81,000 over the past two months), the female participation rate increased to a record high of 62.5 per cent, and their employment-to-population ratio also hit a historical high of 60.4 per cent,” Ms Ford further said.

With the current demand for labour, Australians are now also working more hours.

“Over the past 12 months, hours worked has increased 5.5 per cent, outpacing the 3.3 per cent increase in employment. Since March 2020, hours worked have increased 8.4 per cent, compared to a 7.0 per cent increase in employment.

“The strength in hours worked relative to employment shows the high level of demand for labour, to some extent, is being absorbed by people working more hours,” Ms Ford said.

Most of the recent employment growth has been in full-time employment.

“Around 68.2 per cent of employed people were full-time workers just prior to the pandemic, with this share having generally trended down over the decades through to 2017. It has now increased to 70.1 per cent in March 2023, around where it was a decade ago,” Ms Ford said.

Paul Miles, Managing Director for The BUSY Group stated, “In todays’ tight labour force, demand for skills from industry leaders is higher than ever. The BUSY Group can support employers with skills growth through accredited vocational training, apprenticeship and traineeship services and management, as well as a large database of jobseekers that have received work-ready training and screened for their industry suitability.”

The BUSY Group deliver a range of programs to support persons into work and career paths, and employers with their human resourcing needs. To find out more visit

Source:  Australian Bureau of Statistics

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