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Real unemployment jumps to 10.9% as Australians prepare to vote in election

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 625,391 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 – March 2019 and includes 3,960 face-to-face interviews in March 2019.
Australian unemployment increased to 1.49 million in March (10.9% of the workforce) with an additional 1.32 million now under-employed as overall employment is down on a year ago

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

  • The workforce, which comprises employed Australians and those who are unemployed and looking for work, increased by 65,000 to 13,649,000 on a year ago. However, despite the increasing workforce, now 216,000 fewer Australians were employed in March than a year ago, down to 12,158,000;
  • The fall in employment was driven by a significant decrease in part-time employment of 203,000 to 4,228,000. Over the past year full-time employment was virtually unchanged down by 13,000 to 7,930,000;
  • The lack of jobs and increasing workforce drove a significant increase in unemployment. Now 1,491,000 Australians (10.9% of the workforce) were unemployed, up 281,000 on a year ago and the unemployment rate is up by 2%;
  • An additional 1,321,000 Australians (9.7% of the workforce) were under-employed, working part-time and looking for more work, a decrease of 41,000 in a year (down 0.3%);
  • In total a record high 2,812,000 Australians (20.6% of the workforce) were either unemployed or under-employed in March, an increase of 240,000 in a year (up 1.7%);
  • Roy Morgan’s real unemployment figure of 10.9% for March is significantly higher than the current ABS estimate for February 2019 of 4.9% although Roy Morgan’s under-employment estimate of 9.7% is comparable to the current ABS underemployment estimate of 8.1%.


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source October 2005 – March 2019. Average monthly interviews 4,000.


Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says for the second straight month Australian employment has failed to register any growth on a year ago although the increasing number of Australians joining the workforce without finding jobs has led to a significant increase in unemployment:

“The latest Roy Morgan employment estimates show that 12,158,000 Australians were employed in March down by a significant 216,000 on a year ago. Once again the fall in employment was driven by a decline in part-time employment by 203,000 to 4,228,000 while full-time employment was down only slightly by 13,000 to 7,930,000.

“Alongside a decline in total employment there were also new entrants to the workforce who have been unable to find jobs which led to a significant increase in unemployment. Unemployment increased by 281,000 to 1,491,000 (10.9% of the workforce) and is now at its highest raw number since just over five years ago in February 2014 (1,561,000 or 12.3%).

“Although unemployment increased on a year ago the relatively small decrease in under-employment from a year ago, which fell 41,000 to 1,321,000 (9.7%), is not surprising when one considers the significant fall in part-time employment.

“The overall result of these changes is a substantial increase in the level of labour under-utilisation in the workforce including both unemployment and under-employment. Now a record high 2,812,000 (20.6% of the workforce) are either unemployed or under-employed. This is the first time over a fifth of the Australian workforce have been looking for work or looking for more work for nearly two years since May 2017.

“The significant slowdown in employment growth in recent months is not surprising when one considers the weak start to 2019 for key indicators. Roy Morgan Business Confidence averaged 106.1 in the March quarter 2019, its lowest quarterly result since September quarter 2011 (103.2).

“The low Business Confidence has been caused by significant uncertainty in large parts of the economy as Australia’s two largest States of NSW and Victoria deal with a slowing housing market as well the uncertainty to businesses caused by an imminent Federal election. In addition to these factors NSW also faced a tight State election in late March.

“Taken together all these factors have clearly impacted on confidence in the broader economy which will not be resolved until Australians have elected a new Government in just over a month’s time. The latest Roy Morgan Poll on Federal voting intention taken after the Federal Budget shows the ALP 52.5% cf. L-NP 47.5% holding a winning two-party preferred lead and set for victory.

“Today’s disappointing employment figures suggest the real problem facing the Morrison Government has been an inability to solve Australia’s continuing problem of high unemployment and under-employment. Roy Morgan has consistently shown over 2 million Australians looking for work (unemployed) or looking for more work (under-employed) since the L-NP Government was first elected in September 2013 and that problem remains a large one to this day.”

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 625,391 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 – March 2019 and includes 3,960 face-to-face interviews in March 2019.

*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
:

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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 (2001-2019)

Roy Morgan Research Unemployment & Under-employment Estimates (2007-2019)

Roy Morgan Research vs ABS Employment Estimates (1992-2019)

ABS Employment Estimates (1992-2019)

ROY MORGAN MEASURES REAL UNEMPLOYMENT IN AUSTRALIA

NOT THE ‘PERCEPTION’ OF UNEMPLOYMENT – JUNE 8, 2012

http://www.roymorgan.com/~/media/Files/Papers/2012/20120603.pdf

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

 

40%-60%

25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%

5,000

±1.4

±1.2

±0.8

±0.6

10,000

±1.0

±0.9

±0.6

±0.4

20,000

±0.7

±0.6

±0.4

±0.3

50,000

±0.4

±0.4

±0.3

±0.2

For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309
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