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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

ACT underemployment rate soars in April

An additional 9,200 ACT workers were left under-employed between March and April, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data released today, 14 May, with that figure shooting up from 13,200 to 22,400.

Consequently, the ACT’s underemployment rate jumped 4% between March and April, from 5.3% to 9.3%.

In that same time, 2,200 jobs were lost in the ACT, with 10,200 unemployed in April compared to 8,000 in March.

The local unemployment rate rose from 3.2% in March to 4.2% in April.

Nationally, 594,300 jobs were lost between March and April, which saw the national unemployment rate increase from March to April by 1%, up to 6.2%.

The number of underemployed people nationally rose sharply, up 603,300 people, to a total of 1.8 million; this saw the underemployment rate rocket up to 13.7%, up 4.9 percentage points in April compared to March.

The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, rose from 8.5% to 13.5% in the ACT.

The national underutilisation rate rose to a record high (since ABS records began) of 19.9%.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said more sobering announcements like this would be expected as the cumulative damage the COVID-19 lockdown has had on the economy comes to light.

“We knew there would be hard news as the pandemic reaps an impact on Australia, as it is on countries around the world,” he said.

“In the months ahead, we must brace ourselves for further hard news for Australians to take, but it’s important on a day like today that we remember to support each other.”

Head of labour statistics at the ABS, Bjorn Jarvis, said the large drop in employment did not translate into a similar rise in the number of unemployed people because around 489,800 people left the labour force.

The larger than usual number of employed and unemployed people leaving the labour force resulted in an unprecedented fall in the participation rate by 2.4 percentage points to 63.5%.

“This means there was a high number of people without a job who didn’t or couldn’t actively look for work or weren’t available for work,” Mr Jarvis said.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hours worked was also significant. Total hours worked fell by around 9.2% between March and April.

The ABC is reporting that 6 million Australians are now on the JobKeeper scheme, with 1.6 million receiving the JobSeeker unemployment benefit.

“The task now is to reopen these businesses to get employees back into their jobs and to do so in a COVID-safe way so that it is sustainable,” Mr Morrison said.

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