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Australian unemployment unchanged at 9.2% in November – the first month after the end of the NSW and Victoria lockdowns

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly interviews of 797,592 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 and November 2021 and includes 6,032 telephone and online interviews in November 2021. *The ‘under-employed’ are those people who are in part-time work or freelancers who are looking for more work.

The latest Roy Morgan employment series data shows 1.33 million Australians were unemployed in November, up 10,000 on October (9.2% of the workforce), and 1.21 million Australians were under-employed, down 0.3% points to 8.3% of the workforce.

  • Workforce increased by 178,000 to 14.52 million in November:
    The workforce in November was 14,517,000 (up 178,000 from October) – comprised of 13,187,000 employed Australians (up 168,000) and 1,330,000 unemployed Australians looking for work (up 10,000). It is important to understand that the workforce participation rate of Australians aged 14+ (68.6%) is 1.5% points higher now than it was prior to the pandemic in February 2020 (67.1%) with more Australians now both employed and unemployed than pre-pandemic.
  • Employment in November increased to 13.19 million, full-time employment highest since June 2021:
    Australian employment increased 168,000 to 13,187,000 in November with full-time employment increasing by 51,000 to 8,789,000, its highest since June 2021 – before the outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in Sydney. Part-time employment was up by 117,000 to 4,398,000.
  • Unemployment was virtually unchanged in November after the end of the long lockdowns:
    1,330,000 Australians were unemployed (9.2% of the workforce), up 10,000 from October. There was an increase in people looking for full-time work, up 111,000 to 582,000 while there was a significant drop in those looking for part-time work, down 101,000 to 748,000 as employment in part-time work increased by 117,000 – as mentioned above.

Roy Morgan Unemployment & Under-employment (2019-2021)

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source January 2019 – November 2021. Average monthly interviews 5,000.
Note: Roy Morgan unemployment estimates are actual data while the ABS estimates are seasonally adjusted.

Roy Morgan’s unemployment figure of 9.2% for November is 4% points higher than the current ABS estimate for October 2021 of 5.2%. However, the ABS figure for October counts as employed an additional 189,200 Australians who were working zero hours for ‘economic reasons’ and 199,700 Australians who were working zero hours for ‘other reasons’ – such as being forced out of work by mandatory lockdowns.

If these 388,900 non-workers are added back the ABS unemployment estimate for October increases to 1.1 million (8.1%). The ABS also claims there are 1.29 million Australians (9.5%) under-employed for a total of over 2.39 million unemployed or under-employed (17.6% of the workforce) – a similar estimate to the latest Roy Morgan unemployment and under-employment estimate of 17.8%.

 
  • Under-employment was down in November as part-time employment increased:
    In addition to those who were unemployed, 1.21 million Australians (8.3% of the workforce) were under-employed – working part-time but looking for more work, a decrease of 21,000 (down 0.3% points) from October. In total 2.54 million Australians (17.5% of the workforce) were either unemployed or under-employed in November, a small decrease of 11,000 on October.

Compared to early March 2020, before the nation-wide lockdown was implemented, in November 2021 there were over 375,000 more Australians either unemployed or under-employed (+1.9% points) even though overall employment (13,187,000) is higher than it was pre-COVID-19 (12,872,000).

Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says employment growth resumed in November, after the end of long lockdowns in NSW, Victoria, and the ACT, through remains below its level in June when the Sydney outbreak began:


“The latest Roy Morgan employment estimates for November show unemployment was unchanged at 9.2% while under-employment fell 0.3% points to 8.3%. This means total unemployment and under-employment of 17.5% with over 2.5 million Australians looking for work or looking for more work.

“It is important to understand there have been several impacts of the pandemic that are still playing out in the Australian labour market. One of the biggest impacts is the sustained increase in the workforce participation rate which is now at 68.6% in November 2021, up from 67.1% in February 2020.

“The increase in the workforce participation rate has been sustained throughout 2021 with the workforce participation rate averaging 68.7% of Australians aged 14+ so far this year. The increased participation rate underlies the increases in both employment and unemployment compared to pre-pandemic. There are now more people employed in both full-time and part-time work and also more people looking for work than there was in February 2020.

“The pandemic has impacted the way people work and this has proved attractive to many people. The increased flexibility available due to an increase in remote-working, and working-from-home, has helped many people find suitable jobs and the departure of many backpackers and international students has opened up many jobs for locals that weren’t available before.

“The good news in November was the increase in employment, which was up 168,000 to 13,187,000 as NSW, Victoria and the ACT all enjoyed a month out of lockdown for the first time since April 2021. Full-time employment increased in both NSW and Victoria in November.

“The re-opening of the Australian economy progressed during November with the international border coming down for those returning to NSW and Victoria, and later in the month the South Australian border was also re-opened to all domestic travellers.

“In the run-up to Christmas the Queensland and Tasmanian borders are set to re-open to all domestic travellers next week which will allow freedom of movement between the whole eastern seaboard for fully vaccinated Australians. These re-openings will provide a significant boost to the tourism industries in both States that have been hit hard by the pandemic and associated border closures.

“The latest data from Roy Morgan’s collaboration with UberMedia shows average 7-day movement levels in Australia’s Capital City CBDs are still significantly below the pre-pandemic averages – although they are picking up.

“The 7-day movement levels in the Adelaide CBD, Perth CBD, Brisbane CBD and Hobart CBD are all above 70% of pre-pandemic averages while in the Melbourne CBD (47%) and Sydney CBD (43%) they are still at less than half the pre-pandemic level. However, since the lockdowns ended these figures are increasing rapidly and should approach pre-pandemic levels in the new year.

“The return of people to Australia’s largest Capital City CBDs is vital to re-invigorate the many businesses that are based in the CBDs and can provide a further boost to employment growth during the months ahead as Australia progresses to a ‘COVID-normal’ 2022.”


Roy Morgan Unemployed and ‘Under-employed’* Estimates

Unemployed or

‘Under-employed’*

Unemployed

Unemployed looking for

‘Under-employed’*

Full-time

Part-time

2020

‘000

%

‘000

%

‘000

‘000

‘000

%

Jan-Mar 2020

2,692

19.1

1,417

10.1

638

779

1,275

9.0

Apr-Jun 2020

3,466

24.6

2,099

14.9

937

1,162

1,367

9.7

Jul-Sep 2020

3,237

22.7

1,865

13.1

769

1,096

1,373

9.6

Oct-Dec 2020

3,064

21.5

1,738

12.2

789

949

1,326

9.3

2021

Jan-Mar 2021

2,971

20.6

1,750

12.1

717

1,033

1,222

8.5

Apr-Jun 2021

2,688

18.3

1,398

9.5

574

824

1,290

8.8

Jul-Sep 2021

2,573

17.7

1,350

9.3

547

803

1,224

8.4

Months

October 2020

3,147

22.2

1,810

12.8

790

1,020

1,337

9.4

November 2020

2,964

21.0

1,680

11.9

779

901

1,284

9.1

December 2020

3,081

21.4

1,724

12.0

797

927

1,357

9.4

January 2021

3,118

21.7

1,680

11.7

692

988

1,438

10.0

February 2021

3,068

21.0

1,930

13.2

790

1,140

1,138

7.8

March 2021

2,728

19.0

1,639

11.4

668

971

1,089

7.6

April 2021

2,664

18.3

1,307

9.0

593

714

1,357

9.3

May 2021

2,749

18.9

1,493

10.3

558

935

1,256

8.6

June 2021

2,651

17.9

1,394

9.4

570

824

1,257

8.5

July 2021

2,756

18.8

1,422

9.7

619

803

1,334

9.1

August 2021

2,537

17.7

1,362

9.5

492

870

1,175

8.2

September 2021

2,428

16.7

1,265

8.7

530

735

1,163

8.0

October 2021

2,547

17.8

1,320

9.2

471

849

1,227

8.6

November 2021

2,536

17.5

1,330

9.2

583

748

1,206

8.3


*Workforce includes those employed and those looking for work – the unemployed.

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly interviews of 797,592 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 and November 2021 and includes 6,032 telephone and online interviews in November 2021. *The ‘under-employed’ are those people who are in part-time work or freelancers who are looking for more work.

Contact Roy Morgan to learn more about Australia’s unemployed and under-employed; who and where they are, and the challenges they face as they search for employment opportunities.

Visit the Roy Morgan Online Store to purchase employment profiles, including for Australians who are employed, unemployed, under-employed, employed part-time, employed full-time, retired, studying and many more.


Roy Morgan Research cf. ABS Unemployment Estimates


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source October 2006 – November 2021. Average monthly interviews 4,000.
Note: Roy Morgan unemployment estimates are actual data while the ABS estimates are seasonally adjusted.


Roy Morgan Research cf. ABS Unemployment Estimates


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source January 2000 – November 2021. Average monthly interviews 4,000.
Note: Roy Morgan unemployment estimates are actual data while the ABS estimates are seasonally adjusted.


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source April 1995 – November 2021. Average monthly interviews 4,000.
Note: Roy Morgan unemployment estimates are actual data while the ABS estimates are seasonally adjusted.


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