Australia’s Employment rose by 50,000 in December

January 24, 2021

Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 50,000 people between November and December 2020 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The number of employed people in Australia was 88,000 lower in December compared to March, but was 784,000 higher than May.

Employment and hours worked

Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said this latest data showed that the broad recovery in the labour market had continued through to the end of the year. “Employment finished the year 0.7 per cent below the March level, having fallen 6.7 per cent, or 872,000 people, between March and May.  Although employment has recovered 90 per cent of the fall from March to May, the recovery in part-time employment has outpaced full-time employment. While part-time employment was higher than March, full-time employment was 1.3 per cent below March. The recovery in hours worked has been slower than the recovery in employment.”

Unemployment and participation

Seasonally adjusted unemployment decreased in December by 30,000 people. The unemployment rate decreased 0.2 percentage points to 6.6 per cent. The participation rate, which represents the labour force as a proportion of the civilian population aged 15 years and over, rose by a further 0.1 percentage points to a new high of 66.2 per cent.

“The rise in the participation rate reflects a net increase of around 20,000 people in the labour force in December. There were 108,000 more people in the labour force than in March – 196,000 more unemployed people and 88,000 fewer employed people,” Mr Jarvis said.

The youth unemployment rate dropped 1.7 percentage points to 13.9 per cent in December, and the youth participation rate fell 1.1 percentage points to 68.6 per cent.


The underemployment rate fell a further 0.8 percentage points in December to 8.5 per cent, 5.2 percentage points below its recent peak in April and 0.3 percentage points below March. The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, fell 1.1 percentage points to 15.1 per cent, 5.0 percentage points below its peak in May.

The Jan. 21 release includes additional analysis of hours worked, including for those people working zero hours, analysis of employment and hours for the states and territories. It also includes additional analysis of underemployment. The ABS would like to thank Australians for their continued support in responding to our surveys during such a difficult time.

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