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May unemployment drops to 3.6% and more women joining the workforce

According to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 3.6 per cent in May.

Bjorn Jarvis, ABS head of labour statistics, said: “with employment increasing by around 76,000 people and the number of unemployed decreasing by 17,000 people, the unemployment rate fell to 3.6 per cent.

“The strong growth in employment in May followed a small decrease in April, around Easter, when employment fell by more than it usually would over the holiday period.  

For the first time ever, May also saw the number of employed people in Australia reach 14 million.

“Just before the start of the pandemic almost 13 million people were employed in Australia. In May 2023, this had risen to just over 14 million people,” Mr Jarvis said. 

Similarly, the employment-to-population ratio rose 0.2 percentage points to 64.5 per cent, a record high.

“In addition to there being around a million more employed people than before the pandemic, a much higher share of the population is employed. In May 2023, 64.5 per cent of people 15 years or older were employed, an increase of more than two percentage points (2.1) since March 2020,“ Mr Jarvis said.

“A greater share of women in Australia are employed than ever before, with their employment to population ratio and participation rate both at record highs in May,” Mr Jarvis said.

In response to rising cost of living, as well as many businesses being short-staffed due to labour and skills shortages, it also appears Australians are working longer hours than ever.

“Even though hours worked fell in the latest month, their strength since late 2022, relative to employment growth, shows the demand for labour in a tight market is being met, to some extent, by people working more hours,” Mr Jarvis said.

Paul Miles, Managing Director for The BUSY Group stated, “With many industries requiring staff, employers are looking for alternative job markets, including women looking to enter a male-dominated trade. The knock-on effect is improving diversity in the workplace which is proven to benefit productivity, workplace morale and brand image for companies.

“BUSY offers a range of apprenticeship, training, education, and employment programs to support jobseekers into careers and industry to fill skills gaps in their workforce. We also offer mentoring and support programs for women who have newly entered or who are looking to enter a trade career or other male-dominated industry.”

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Australian Bureau of Statistics – May Labour Force Figures

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