August 09, 2022

Australian unemployment increases to 8.5% in July as workforce swells to 14.7 million Australians

Topic: Morgan Poll Review, Press Release, Special Poll, Unemployment
Finding No: 9044
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In July unemployment increased 0.7% points to 8.5%, according to the latest Roy Morgan employment series data. The rise in unemployment was due to the increasing size of the workforce with full-time employment, part-time employment and unemployment all increasing in July. This is the first month this year all three indicators have increased in the same month. 

Unemployment in July increased 121,000 to 1.25 million Australians (8.5% of the workforce) while under-employment was up 44,000 to 1.27 million (8.6% of the workforce). Overall unemployment and under-employment increased 165,000 to 2.52 million (17.1% of the workforce).

  • The workforce was up 195,000 in July driven by increasing employment and unemployment:
    The workforce in July was 14,686,000 (up 195,000 from June) – comprised of 13,440,000 employed Australians (up 74,000) and 1,246,000 unemployed Australians looking for work (up 121,000).
  • Employment increases in July and full-time employment hits a new record high:
    Australian employment increased by 74,000 to 13,440,000 in July driven by an increase in full-time employment, up 8,000 to 8,884,000. This represents second straight all-time high for full-time employment during the early months of the new Albanese Government. There was a more significant rise in part-time employment, up 66,000 to 4,556,000 in July.
  • The swelling workforce drove the increase in unemployment in July:
    1,246,000 Australians were unemployed (8.5% of the workforce) in July, an increase of 121,000 from June with more people looking for full-time work, up 85,000 to 494,000, and also more people looking for part-time work, up 36,000 752,000.
  • Under-employment increased in July to 1.27 million – the highest level so far this year:
    In addition to the unemployed, 1.27 million Australians (8.6% of the workforce) were under-employed – working part-time but looking for more work, up by 44,000 from June.
    In total 2.52 million Australians (17.1% of the workforce) were either unemployed or under-employed in July, up 165,000 on June.

Compared to early March 2020, before the nation-wide lockdown, in June 2022 there were almost 400,000 more Australians either unemployed or under-employed (+1.5% points) even though overall employment (13,440,000) is over 500,000 higher than it was pre-COVID-19 (12,872,000).

Roy Morgan’s unemployment figure of 7.8% for June is more than double the ABS estimate for June 2022 of 3.5%. However, the ABS figures for June show there were 776,800 workers who worked fewer hours than usual due to illness, personal injury or sick leave compared to an average of 441,220 for the month of June over the five years from June 2017 – June 2021.

This difference, which can be put down to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, equates to a difference of 335,580 in June 2022 above the average for the month of June for the previous five years. If these workers are added to the 493,900 classified as unemployed this creates a total of 829,480 – equivalent to 5.9% of the workforce. In addition, the ABS classifies 6.1% of the workforce (approximately 865,000 workers) as under-employed. Combining these figures adds to 1.7 million workers, around 12.0% of the workforce.

Roy Morgan Unemployment & Under-employment (2019-2022)

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source January 2019 – July 2022. Average monthly interviews 5,000.
Note: Roy Morgan unemployment estimates are actual data while the ABS estimates are seasonally adjusted.

Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says full-time employment hit a new record high in July as the increasing workforce led to increases in all three key indicators of full-time employment, part-time employment and unemployment in the same month for the first time this year:

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“The latest Roy Morgan employment estimates for July show full-time employment up 8,000 to 8,884,000 in July – a new record high. There was also an increase in part-time employment, up by 66,000 to 4,556,000, which led to overall employment increasing by 74,000 to 13,440,000 – the highest level of employment so far this year.

“However, the increases in employment were not the full story in July with the swelling workforce also leading to a rise in unemployment, up by 121,000 to 1,246,000 (8.5% of the workforce). This matches the trend of recent months with unemployment in the June quarter averaging 1,235,000 (8.5%).

“Looking underneath the headline figures shows that much of the growth in employment came from people aged 50-64. People in this age group are more likely to be paying off their home than the average Australian meaning the pressures of rising inflation and interest rates hit this age group particularly hard.

“A look at employment by industry shows the Construction and Retail industries adding the largest number of new jobs (both full-time and part-time) in July while the industries with declining employment levels were led by Recreation & Personal Services and Finance & Insurance.

“The month of July marked a definite fourth wave of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 after previous waves peaked at a high number of officially notified active cases in January (766,000 on January 14), April (502,000 on April 3) and May (386,000 on May 16). The officially notified peak of active cases of COVID-19 in July was at 378,000 on July 25 and active cases have since declined.

“It’s important to understand that these numbers are large under-estimates of actual active cases in the community as there is little incentive for most people to notify the health department, they have COVID-19 unless they qualify for the government payment of $750 for the mandatory week off.

“However, active cases of COVID-19 in the community do play havoc with the employment markets even if most people taking a week off aren’t notifying the authorities. At Roy Morgan we have had many employees throughout the business taking the mandatory week off work during the recent wave of COVID-19 in July and this situation has been replicated at many of our clients.

“The mandatory isolation period of a week hits businesses which can’t offer ‘working from home’ for employees the hardest. One of the common responses for these businesses in particular is to hire new employees to cover the inevitable shortfalls. We have now seen this trend of increasing employment during three successive waves of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 during the March-April second wave, the third wave in May and now the fourth wave during July.

“Although the current winter wave of COVID-19 is now receding the chances are there will be further waves of COVID-19 during the next few months. This uncertainty about the future course of the pandemic makes predicting the employment trends over the next few months challenging although one hopeful sign is that each successive wave of COVID-19 has led to a lower peak of active cases than the last.”

Roy Morgan Unemployed and ‘Under-employed’* Estimates

Unemployed or

‘Under-employed’*

Unemployed Unemployed looking for ‘Under-employed’*
Full-time Part-time
2021 ‘000 % ‘000 % ‘000 ‘000 ‘000 %
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
Oct-Dec 2021 2,586 17.8 1,301 9.0 537 764 1,286 8.9
2022      
Jan-Mar 2022 2,380 16.4 1,187 8.2 438 749 1,193 8.2
Apr-Jun 2022 2,467 17.0 1,235 8.5 482 753 1,232 8.5
Months      
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
December 2021 2,676 18.2 1,252 8.5 557 695 1,424 9.7
January 2022 2,427 16.6 1,201 8.2 464 737 1,226 8.4
February 2022 2,357 16.3 1,227 8.5 463 764 1,130 7.8
March 2022 2,356 16.2 1,133 7.8 387 746 1,223 8.4
April 2022 2,641 18.1 1,411 9.7 559 852 1,230 8.4
May 2022 2,408 16.7 1,169 8.1 477 692 1,239 8.6
June 2022 2,351 16.3 1,125 7.8 409 716 1,226 8.5
July 2022 2,516 17.1 1,246 8.5 494 752 1,270 8.6

*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 846,638 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 and July 2022 and includes 7,436 telephone and online interviews in July 2022. *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 employedunemployedunder-employedemployed part-timeemployed full-timeretiredstudying and many more.

Roy Morgan Research cf. ABS Unemployment Estimates

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source October 2006 – July 2022. 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 – July 2022. 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 – July 2022. Average monthly interviews 4,000.
Note: Roy Morgan unemployment estimates are actual data while the ABS estimates are seasonally adjusted.

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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. Margin of error 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. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
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

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