Labour force figures released today by the ABS show that the Australian labour market continued to recover in January 2021, with employment increasing by 29,100 over the month. The unemployment rate also decreased in January, by 0.2 percentage points, to 6.4 per cent.
The increase in employment over the month was due, entirely, to a rise in full-time jobs, which surged by 59,000 in January. Full-time employment has now risen for four consecutive months to stand at 8,820,400 in January 2021.
While aggregate hours worked fell by 86.0 million hours (or 4.9 per cent) in January, the ABS has advised that this reflects more Australians than usual taking leave in the first two weeks of January. The fall in hours worked also reflects some of the ongoing effects of the recent lockdown in the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
Importantly, while employment fell by 872,100 between March and May (the trough in the labour market) it has since increased by 813,600 over the last eight months, recovering more than 93 per cent of the jobs lost so far during the pandemic.
The participation rate fell marginally, by 0.1 percentage points over the month, to 66.1 per cent in January 2021, although it remains above the 65.9 per cent recorded in March 2020.
Significantly, the underemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points over the month, to 8.1 per cent in January 2021, and is below its pre-COVID rate, of 8.8 per cent in March 2020. There are now 81,400 (or 6.7 per cent) fewer underemployed people than there were in March 2020.
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said the Government remains acutely aware that the economic and labour market fallout from COVID-19 will continue for some time to come.
“That is why the Morrison Government has committed an unprecedented economic support, to help rebuild the economy and put Australia back on the road to recovery,” Minister Cash said.
“This includes $251 billion in direct economic support including more than $101 billion in JobKeeper payments to help cushion the impact of COVID-19 which has led to the most severe global economic crisis since the Great Depression.
“This is the single largest economic support measure that any Australian Government has introduced, which will help mitigate the difficulties that businesses and employees are encountering as a result of COVID-19.”