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Unemployment in November is 9.5% and under-employment is 7.7%

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 608,829 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 – November 2018 and includes 4,233 face-to-face interviews in November 2018.
Australian unemployment is 9.5% (down 0.3%) and under-employment is 7.7% (down 0.7%) are both down on a year ago driving a 1% fall in overall labour under-utilisation to 17.2% (2.3 million)

The latest data for the Roy Morgan employment series for November shows:

  • The workforce which comprises employed and unemployed Australians is now 13,585,000, up 411,000 on a year ago. 12,294,000 Australians were employed in November, up 408,000 over the past year;

  • The increase in employment was evenly shared with an increase in part-time employment of 217,000 to 4,184,000 and full-time employment increased by 191,000 to 8,110,000;

  • 1,291,000 Australians (9.5% of the workforce) were unemployed in November, virtually unchanged on a year ago but with the unemployment rate down by 0.3% due to the growth in the workforce;

  • In addition 1,042,000 Australians (7.7% of the workforce) were under-employed, working part-time and looking for more work, a decrease of 64,000 in a year (down 0.7%). This is the lowest level of under-employment in Australia for over two years since September 2016;

  • In total 2,333,000 Australians (17.2% of the workforce) were either unemployed or under-employed in November, a decrease of 61,000 in a year (down 1%);

  • Roy Morgan’s real unemployment figure of 9.5% for November is significantly higher than the current ABS estimate for October 2018 of 5.0%.

Roy Morgan Monthly Unemployment & Under-employment - November 2018 - 17.2%

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source October 2005 – November 2018. Average monthly interviews 4,000.

Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says the Australian economy has performed strongly over the last year with over 400,000 jobs created split fairly evenly between full-time and part-time jobs:

“The 400,000 jobs created over the last year include 217,000 part-time jobs and 191,000 full-time jobs. However, the strong growth in employment appears to be directly related to the growth in the overall Australian workforce with the level of unemployment virtually unchanged from a year ago.

“The Australian workforce, including both employed and unemployed Australians looking for work, has grown by 411,000 over the last 12 months. In November there were 1.291 million unemployed Australians virtually unchanged on a year ago (1.288 million) and equivalent to 9.5% of the workforce.

“A further 1.04 million Australians (7.7% of the workforce) are under-employed meaning a total of 2.3 million Australians (17.2% of the workforce) are now unemployed and looking for work or employed part-time and looking for more work (under-employed).

“The Roy Morgan real unemployment figures continue to show a far higher level of labour force under-utilisation than the official ABS figures which show Australian unemployment at only 5% in October 2018. The ABS only releases under-employment on a quarterly basis which serves to reduce the media interest in the figure but even the quarterly ABS figures for August show under-employment at 8.1% similar to the Roy Morgan figures.

“The disconnect is most apparent when considering the unemployment figures with Roy Morgan showing nearly 1.3 million Australians unemployed and looking for work and the ABS figures showing only 670,000 odd Australians unemployed and looking for work.

“Roy Morgan has asked Australians on several occasions to consider the two figures and tell us “which (figure) do you consider closer to reality?”. We last asked Australians this question in March 2017 comparing the then Roy Morgan unemployment estimate of 9.4% with the ABS estimate of 5.9%.

“A clear majority of Australians (59%) said the Roy Morgan figure was ‘closer to reality’ compared to 30% that said the ABS figure was ‘closer to reality’ while 11% couldn’t say. These results tie into a broader question of the trust, and distrust, Australians have in official pronouncements that we see played out in the political realm with the rise of minor parties.

“Minor parties have increased their share of the vote at each Federal election since 2007 while at the recent Victorian election the minor parties grabbed 22% of the primary vote – an increasing share of the vote for the fifth straight Victorian election.

“Last night (Thursday December 6, 2018) I joined Stephen Conroy and Michael Kroger on the SkyNews show ‘Conroy & Kroger to discuss the issues of trust and distrust in the Australian electorate and how these feelings play out in broader society – including the political choices Australians make when they head to the ballot box.

“With an Australian Federal election (and a NSW election) coming up early in 2019 whichever party can convince voters it can make campaign promises and deliver on them stands the best chance of gaining the trust of the electorate and winning at the ballot box next year.”

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 608,829 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 – November 2018 and includes 4,233 face-to-face interviews in November 2018.

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

For further information




Gary Morgan:

+61 3 9224 5213

+61 411 129 094

Michele Levine:

+61 3 9224 5215

+61 411 129 093

Unemployment Data Tables

Roy Morgan Research Employment Estimates (2001-2018)

Roy Morgan Research Unemployment & Under-employment Estimates (2007-2018)

Roy Morgan Research vs ABS Employment Estimates (1992-2018)

ABS Employment Estimates (1992-2018)

Roy Morgan Monthly Unemployment - November 2018 - 9.5%

Roy Morgan Quarterly Unemployment - September quarter 2018 - 10.1%



The Roy Morgan Unemployment estimate is obtained by surveying an Australia-wide cross section by face-to-face interviews. A person is classified as unemployed if they are looking for work, no matter when.

The results are not seasonally adjusted and provide an accurate measure of monthly unemployment estimates in Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Unemployment estimates are obtained by mostly telephone interviews. Households selected for the ABS Survey are interviewed each month for eight months, with one-eighth of the sample being replaced each month. The first interview is conducted face-to-face. Subsequent interviews are then conducted by telephone.

The ABS classifies a person as unemployed if, when surveyed, they have been actively looking for work in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week and if they were available for work in the reference week.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Unemployment estimates are also seasonally adjusted.

For these reasons the Australian Bureau of Statistics Unemployment estimates are different from the Roy Morgan Unemployment estimate. Gary Morgan's concerns regarding the ABS Unemployment estimate is clearly outlined in his letter to the Australian Financial Review, which was not published.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. The following table gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. The figures are approximate and for general guidance only, and assume a simple random sample. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

% Estimate



25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%





















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Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309