Unemployment edges higher in changing economy

People waiting on chairs.| Newsreel
Australia's unemployment rate edged above 4 percent in April as more people joined the labour market. | Photo: iStock

Australia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rose to 4.1 percent in April. This was up from a revised 3.9 per cent in March as jobless numbers jumped by 30,000 during the month.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said employment rose by 38,000 people during the same period but labour force participation also grew.

“The 30,000 people increase in unemployment reflected more people without jobs available and looking for work, and also more people than usual indicating that they had a job that they were waiting to start in,” he said.

“The increases in both employment and unemployment in April saw the participation rate up by 0.1 percentage point to 66.7 percent in April. It has been relatively high, above 66.5 per cent, since March 2023.”

Mr Jarvis said employment growth was broadly keeping pace with population growth, suggesting a tight labour market but an easing of undersupply of labour since late 2022 and early 2023.

“The seasonal change in hours worked in April 2024 was similar to the normal pattern we usually see around the Easter holidays,” he said.

“In contrast to what we saw last year, when fewer people than usual took time off around the Easter holidays in April 2023, the proportion of people working reduced hours in April 2024 was more similar to what we saw before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, rose 0.3 percentage points to 10.7 percent in April.

While this was 0.8 percentage points higher than April 2023, it was 3.3 percentage points lower than March 2020.