Release type: Media Release


Australia's unemployment rate remains among lowest in industrialised world


The Hon Kate Ellis MP
Minister for Employment Participation
Minister for Early Childhood and Child Care

Labour force figures released today by the ABS confirm that Australia’s unemployment rate remains one of the lowest seen in the industrialised world.

Australia’s unemployment rate ticked up to 5.6 per cent in March, but this is still less than half the rate in Europe at 12.0 per cent, and well below the OECD average of 8.0 per cent.

While today’s figures show jobs declined in the month of March, this follows strong employment growth in February, with more than 50,000 jobs created since the start of this year and more than 100,000 jobs created over the past 12 months.

Acting Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Kate Ellis said the sustained high dollar, subdued global conditions and ongoing uncertainty in Europe continues to weigh on hiring decisions in some sectors, but our labour market remains very strong compared to other developed countries.

"Certainly one job loss is too many and we are a government that is committed to seeing growth in jobs,” Ms Ellis said.

"Despite the patchy nature of conditions across our economy, nearly 900,000 jobs have been created since the Labor Government came to office in November 2007.

"That’s an outstanding result given that many advanced economies are grappling with soaring debt problems, crippling unemployment and are still struggling to return to growth, with economies like the UK on the verge of its third recession in four years.

"While some businesses have recently been hesitant in their hiring, particularly due to the sustained high dollar and difficult global conditions, the rate of jobs growth in Australia over the last five years has been around twice as fast as any major advanced economy.

"The fact is Australia has one of the strongest set of economic fundamentals in the world, with solid growth, low unemployment, contained inflation, low debt, and low interest rates.”

While the ongoing transition towards non-mining growth drivers may not be seamless going forward, lower interest rates should continue to support jobs right across the country.

Ms Ellis said the Government will continue to bed down its substantial reform and prudent policy agenda, to help strengthen the economy and labour market and secure our future prosperity.

"Increasing employment opportunities have always been at the centre of the Gillard Government’s plans for the future, which is why we’ve also announced A Plan for Australian Jobs, which contains wide-ranging measures to improve the quality and number of employment opportunities for Australians now and into the future,” she said.

"A key plank of this plan is the Venture Australia package, which includes a new $350 million round of equity funding through the Innovation Investment Fund. 

"This will turn the bright ideas of our innovators into new products, services, firms and, ultimately, jobs, by attracting more private sector investment into the high-risk venture capital market, to support the growth of competitive start-up firms and help foster employment growth.

"Our greatest responsibility is to invest in our people by enhancing skills and education to help drive Australia’s productivity performance and ensure that all Australians can participate, prosper and contribute in our society.”

Seasonally adjusted employment fell by 36,100 in March 2013, although a decline was not unexpected, given the robust increase of 74,000 recorded last month, which reflected, in part, some sampling variability.

Full-time employment fell by 7400 in March while part-time employment decreased by 28,700.