“Real” Australian unemployment jumps to 11%

This month’s “real” unemployment rate as measured by Roy Morgan has risen 1% to 11% – now at its highest since February 2015 and 5.2% higher than the current ABS figure for February 2016 (5.8%).

Moreover, 2.433 million Australians (18.8% of the workforce) are either unemployed or under-employed.jobs unemployed job work employment

  • There are 12,944,000 Australians in the workforce in March, down 230,000, from a month ago (although up 274,000 since March 2015) and 11,522,000 Australians are employed (up 220,000 since March 2015) – although most of the increase in employment comes from part-time employment;
  • Now 7,604,000 Australians are employed full-time – up 18,000 since March 2015 and  3,918,000 AuRoy Morganstralians (up 202,000) are part-time workers;
  • Now a high 11.0% of the workforce, 1,422,000 people, are unemployed – up 54,000 since March 2015 with the unemployment rate up 0.2% in a year while 1,011,000 Australians are under-employed – working part-time and looking for more hours: 7.8% of the workforce – up 35,000 (up 0.1%);
  • Now 2,433,000 Australians are unemployed or under-employed: a massive 18.8% of the workforce – up 89,000 (up 0.3%) since March 2015.


Gary Morgan, Executive Chairman, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“In March Australia’s real unemployment increased to 11.0% (1.422 million people looking for work, 54,000 more than a year ago) and under-employment increased to 7.8% (1.011 million, up 35,000) – a total of 18.8% (2.433 million) Australians looking for work or looking for more work.

This is the first time the Roy Morgan unemployment rate has increased in March for more than a decade since March 2005. It is the highest rate of unemployment for more than a year since February 2015 (11.0%, 1.381 million); and the highest overall number of unemployed for two years since March 2014 (1.465 million).20863570_l

Over the past year full-time employment 7,604,000 (up 18,000) has barely changed whilst part-time employment 3,918,000 (up 202,000) has increased strongly.

Today’s figures show that although Australia’s economy is rebalancing slowly following the end of the mining boom there is more work required to ensure the Australian economy grows strongly in the years ahead.

The troubles facing the Australian economy are illustrated clearly this week with the announcement iron ore miner and steelmaker Arrium (formerly part of BHP and spun out of BHP as OneSteel) has entered voluntary administration.

As many as 10,000 jobs around Australia are now in jeopardy as Arrium struggles to repay up to $2.8 billion in debt.

Arrium employs more than 1,000 people in the South Australian regional town of Whyalla out of a total population of 22,000.

The closure of the Whyalla steelworks would be a devastating blow for South Australia which also faces the closure of the Holden automotive manufacturing plant in 18 months and continuing uncertainty about whether submarine and ship-building in South Australia will continue contingent on new Government defence contracts.

The dire situation facing Arrium follows the announcement by telecommunications company Optus this week that 500 employees face redundancy and comes after electronics retailer Dick Smith was forced into closure earlier this year and Woolworths announced the shutting down of its Masters home improvement outlet.

These examples across different sectors of the Australian economy show the huge challenge facing whichever party wins this year’s Federal Election.

The ongoing job losses throughout the Australian economy also provide clear evidence that the ABS unemployment figures released monthly lack credibility.

ABS estimated unemployment of only 5.8% in February indicating a booming Australian economy which is also not reflected in other measures of economic activity. 15101529_l

RP Data this week announced Capital city rental prices fell 0.2% over the past year, the first time in the 20 year history of the index to show a fall over a 12 month period while the latest ABS retail spending index data shows retail spending unchanged in February following a monthly rise of only 0.3% in January after also being unchanged in December 2015.

A retail economy that has barely moved for three months is not indicative of the robust growth the ABS unemployment figures suggest.

The major problem facing the Australian economy is that the Turnbull Government, like all Governments before them, continues to base their economic modelling on the wrong unemployment data and because of this they will fail to advocate the policy reforms that need to be undertaken to ‘free-up’ the Australian economy.

Stimulating real growth in the Australian economy is the most effective way there is to create jobs for unemployed and under-employed Australians.

In addition by continuing to use ‘wrong data’ there will be a large group of people (unemployed and under-employed) who will be disenfranchised and angry with the Government of the day.”

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 476,035 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 – March 2016 and includes 3,997 face-to-face interviews in March 2016.

*The ‘under-employed’ are those people who are in part-time work or consultants who are looking for more work. (Unfortunately the ABS put their ‘heads in the sand’ and refuse to accept the reality and does not release this figure in their monthly unemployment survey results).

Unemployment Data Tables







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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who create wealth for their clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit Metropole.com.au

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