Despite our workforce being at a record high, over 2.4 million Australians are looking for work

We know the RBA is hell-bent on lower unemployment, lifting wages and boosting inflation

But it seems they’re not really getting anywhere despite the 4 rate cuts in the last year.

In fact. maybe they’re working with the wrong stats.

According to Roy Morgan research over 2.4 million Australians looking for work following our summer of bushfires along Australia’s east coast.

The latest data for the Roy Morgan employment series shows:

In February over 1.17 million Australians were unemployed (8.3% of the workforce), with an additional 1.27 million (9% of the workforce) now under-employed.

  • The workforce in February was a record high 14,087,000 – comprised of 12,913,000 employed and 1,174,000 unemployed Australians looking for work. The total includes an annual increase of 621,000. The growth was driven by a significant increase in employment compared to this time a year ago; Businesspeople Waiting For Job Interview
  • The number of Australians in employment was up a large 739,000 from a year ago to 12,913,000 in February 2020. This was driven by a significant increase in full-time employment of 514,000 to 8,673,000, and an increase of 225,000 in part-time employment to 4,105,000;
  • Unemployment dropped 118,000 on a year ago, to 1,174,000, and the unemployment rate was down 1.3% to 8.3%. In contrast, under-employment, Australians working part-time and looking for more work, increased to 9% of the workforce or 1,269,000 people (up 113,000, or 0.4%);
  • Roy Morgan’s unemployment figure of 8.3% for February is higher than the current ABS estimate for January 2020 of 5.3%. Roy Morgan’s under-employment estimate of 9% is also marginally higher than the current ABS under-employment estimate of 8.6%;
  • Although Roy Morgan’s total unemployment and under-employment of 2,443,000 Australians (17.3% of the workforce) in February, down 5,000 on a year ago, is larger than figures usually estimated, the biennial ABS survey the ‘Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation’, last released in late 2017, claimed that 2.7 million Australians would like a job or to work more hours – including 1.1 million people who wanted a job but were excluded from the Labour Force.

Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says the Australian workforce grew strongly over the last year with big increases in both full-time and part-time employment compared to a year ago:

“Roy Morgan’s latest data shows the Australian workforce boosted by over 730,000 new jobs over the past year. An additional 510,000 full-time jobs and over 220,000 new part-time jobs drove total employment in Australia up to a record high of over 12.9 million in February 2020. More Australians are working than ever before and 67.1% of Australians of working age are now in the workforce – up 2% points on a year ago and a two-and-a-half year high.

“However, despite the strong growth in new jobs, there are still over 2.44 million Australians looking for a job or looking for more hours representing 17.3% of the workforce. This large pool of under-utilised labour is virtually unchanged on a year ago when 2.45 million Australians were either unemployed or employed part-time and looking for more hours, the under-employed.

“These results indicate that the Australian workforce has emerged in relatively good shape from a summer of bushfires, floods, and for some parts of Australia, cyclones. However, in recent weeks a significant new threat has emerged with the fast-spreading novel coronavirus now named as COVID-19.

“The spread of COVID-19 has led to travel bans for some of Australia’s largest trading partners including China and South Korea and has led to a precipitous decline in international tourism to many locations – including Australia as travellers refuse to get on a plane.

“These impacts are already being felt heavily in several industries including Manufacturing, Education & Training, Accommodation & Food services, which includes travel and tourism, and Wholesale trade as revealed in a special Roy Morgan SMS survey in February and look set to grow in the months ahead.”

Despite our workforce being at a record high, over 2.4 million Australians are looking for work

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source October 2005 – February 2020. Average monthly interviews 4,000.

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 665,536 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 and February 2020, and includes 3,907 face-to-face interviews in February 2020. *The ‘under-employed’ are those people who are in part-time work or freelancers who are looking for more work.


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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and one of Australia's 50 most influential Thought Leaders. His opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

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