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Economy in Brief

More Jobs in Australia; Unemployment Still Low
by Carol Stone October 7, 2004

Labor markets in Australia continue to look prosperous, based on data reported today for September. We last reported on them four months ago; employment in May had ticked down, but the unemployment rate was also at its lowest in 23 years. Over the winter in Australia, job growth resumed. The number employed gained 16,000 in July and 63,000 in September, with mild dips in intervening months. Employment is now 237,000 larger than its level in September 2003, a gain of 2.5%, the largest year-on-year percentage increase since May 2003. The unemployment rate stood at 5.6% in September and has hovered since May just above its low then of 5.5%.

In our prior commentary, published on June 10, we described an "employment rate", that is, the percentage of the working-age population that is employed; this is a ratio we calculated using Haver's DLXVG3 software. In September it was 60.1%, up from 59.8% in August and from just barely under 60% in May. The September value is only the sixth in the 27-year history of the data which actually exceeds 60%. Similar rates are provided by government statistics bureaus in a number of other countries, and they look remarkably similar. Australia's 60% is something of a central value; it is almost exactly equal to a June reading in the UK of 59.9%, and it is higher than the recent 57.5% in Italy, but somewhat lower than 62.5% in the US and in Canada.

Australia Labor Force Survey Sept 2004 Aug 2004 Jul 2004 Year Ago
2003 2002 2001
Employment: Change, Thous +63 -9 +16 +237 +153 +282 +81
  Yr/Yr % Change       2.5 1.6 3.0 0.9
"Employment Rate"*, % 60.1 59.8 59.9 59.6 59.8** 59.4** 59.1**
Unemployment Rate, % 5.6 5.7 5.7 5.9 6.0** 6.4** 6.8**
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