Unemployment rate drops to 6.8pc on the back of Victoria’s coronavirus lockdown ending

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Australia’s unemployment rate fell slightly last month to 6.8 per cent, with 90,000 more people employed.

Full-time jobs rose 84,200 and part-time jobs rose by 5,800.

Unemployment is now at its lowest level since April and below forecasts of it remaining stagnant at 7 per cent.

The number of people out of work decreased by 17,300 over the month and the participation rate — the proportion of those people looking for work — lifted from 65.8 per cent in October to 66.1 per cent in November.

On a state-by-state basis, South Australia saw the biggest drop in unemployment, down 0.8 per cent, followed by Tasmania (-0.4pc).

The Northern Territory and ACT recorded slight increases in unemployment, 0.3 per cent and 0.1 per cent, respectively.

NSW and Queensland recorded no change.

The youth unemployment rate rose by less than 0.1 per cent to 15.6 per cent and remains 4.1 per cent higher than at the beginning of the year.

The underemployment rate — people who want more hours — dropped from 10.4 per cent to 9.4 per cent.

Part-time work leads recovery

Chief economist for BIS Oxford Economics Sarah Hunter says the labour market has “outperformed” and Australia’s “recovery is now well-entrenched”.

“Total employment is now just 1.1 per cent below its pre-COVID peak and the participation rate has fully recovered,” she said.

“Not unexpectedly, Victoria is responsible for the majority (80pc) of the increase in employment in November, with the easing of restrictions in Melbourne allowing many businesses to reopen and take on staff.”

Dr Hunter said the rate of underemployment remained high, reflecting the country’s recovery had been disproportionately in favour of part-time work.

Part-time work has now risen above pre-COVID-19 levels, Dr Huter says, in contrast to 160,000 full-time positions that are yet to return.

Unfortunately, the pace of growth in employment is likely to slow in coming months, Dr Hunter says, as the boost from Victoria re-opening fades.

“The recovery will now be driven by the domestic economic environment, and the response of households and businesses to the policy stimulus that’s in place, continued containment of COVID-19 in the near term, the vaccine rollout and the transition to a new post-COVID normal.”

More to come.

By business reporters Rachel Clayton and Rachel Pupazzoni (Original ABC Article)