What pandemic? Unemployment is now below pre-COVID levels at 5.1%

New figures released today show unemployment has fallen for the seventh consecutive month.
The post What pandemic? Unemployment is now below pre-COVID levels at 5.1% appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia. –

Cast your mind back to early 2020 (if you can bear it).

In the weeks following the pandemic outbreak, there were grave fears about unemployment in Australia. With a severe (albeit in hindsight, short-lived) recession looming, economic commentators were warning us to prepare for unemployment levels not seen in decades.

What was even scarier was the prospect of a ‘scarred labour market’ – the result of sustained low job levels pushing retrenched workers into permanent retirement.

Well, those fears appear to be well and truly behind us, judging by the latest labour and employment figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released this morning. The figures are for the month of May and make for some encouraging reading.

According to the ABS, the unemployment rate fell substantially over May, dropping from April’s 5.5% to 5.1% for the month. That makes May the seventh consecutive month of falling unemployment.

May’s numbers were the result of employment increasing by 115,000 jobs. This puts Australian employment 1% higher than where it was before the start of the pandemic.

Female jobs increased by 69,000 over the month and are now 1.6% above where they were at the start of the pandemic. That’s looking good against an 0.5% increase in jobs for men at 46,000.

Economy goes full steam ahead on jobs

The head of labour statistics at the ABS, Bjorn Jarvis, said:

The increase in female employment in May means that a higher percentage of women were in paid work than ever before – 58.8 per cent, 0.7 percentage points higher than the start of the pandemic. The difference was even greater for women aged 15 to 64, whose employment-to-population ratio in May was 1.5 percentage points above March 2020.

Hours worked also rose over May, increasing by 1.4%. This means that the total hours worked was 2.9% higher than at the start of the pandemic.

Labour force participation is also on the up, rising 0.3% to 66.2%, just a whisker below its all-time high of 66.3%, which we saw in March 2021.

Underemployment (people who are working but want to work more) decreased 0.3% to 7.4%, the lowest level since 2014. It’s also 1.4% below where it was at the start of the pandemic.

The post What pandemic? Unemployment is now below pre-COVID levels at 5.1% appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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