Release type: Media Release


Labour Force - February


The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for Social Inclusion
Deputy Prime Minister

Labour force figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that the unemployment rate rose by 0.1 per cent in February, taking the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to 5.3 per cent.

The January rate had been 5.3 per cent, but was revised down to 5.2 per cent. The participation rate decreased 0.1 pt to 65.2 per cent.

The market expectation had been for unemployment to remain unchanged at 5.3 per cent. The expectation had been for 15 000 jobs to be created in February.

The figures show that 400 jobs were created in February taking the number of Australians in a job to just under 11 million people. Full-time employment rose by 11 400 while part time employment fell by 11 000.

This along with a 2.4 per cent increase in hours worked indicates that employers in February moved to increase hours of their existing workers rather than employ new staff.

This steady result and the move to full-time employment shows that employers, workers and unions who worked together to keep people in jobs during the global financial crisis can now begin to raise the number of hours available to workers each week.

More than 128 000 Australians have become unemployed since the beginning of the global financial crisis in September 2008. The number of unemployed Australians sits at 615 800.

There are still pockets of very high unemployment including far north Queensland and Western Sydney. That’s why the Rudd Government continues to support jobs with stimulus and with priority employment programs in these areas. Australia’s unemployment rate remains well below that of most major trading partners including the United States at 9.7 per cent, the United Kingdom at 7.8 per cent and the Euro Zone at 9.9 per cent. Japan’s unemployment rate sits at 4.9 per cent.

The result is a continued endorsement by employers of the Government’s strategy to provide stimulus to the Australian economy during the GFC which is being gradually wound down as the economy improves and jobs growth returns. The withdrawal of stimulus will continue to subtract for the remainder of 2010.

Across the country the unemployment rate declined in New South Wales (down by 0.3 per cent to 5.4 per cent), was unchanged in Victoria and the Northern Territory and rose in the remaining States and the ACT.