September 13, 2019

Boost for L-NP as unemployment and under-employment both down in August following income tax cut and RBA rate cuts

Topic: Press Release, Special Poll, Unemployment
Finding No: 8129
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The latest data for the Roy Morgan employment series for August shows:

In August 1.18 million Australians were unemployed (8.7% of the workforce) with an additional 950,000 (7.1%) now under-employed.

  • The workforce, which comprises employed Australians and those who are unemployed and looking for work, has increased year-on-year by 57,000 to 13,473,000. The increasing workforce was driven entirely by an increase in full-time employment as unemployment and part-time employment fell;
  • Employment was up 354,000 to 12,294,000 in August 2019 – the rise in employment was driven by a significant increase in full-time employment of 624,000 to 8,385,000. However, over the past year part-time employment has declined by 270,000 to 3,909,000;
  • Unemployment was down 297,000 on a year ago to 1,179,000 Australians and the unemployment rate is down by 2.3% to 8.7%. In addition under-employment is down by 120,000 to 951,000 Australians (down 0.9% to 7.1% of the workforce) over the past year which includes Australians working part-time and looking for more work;
  • Roy Morgan’s unemployment figure of 8.7% for August is higher than the current ABS estimate for July 2019 of 5.2%, although the gap between the two measures is closer than usual. Roy Morgan’s under-employment estimate of 7.1% is now slightly below the current ABS underemployment estimate of 8.4%;
  • Roy Morgan’s total unemployment and under-employment of 2,130,000 Australians (15.8% of the workforce) in August, down 417,000 on a year ago, is larger than figures usually discussed but the biennial ABS survey the ‘Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation’ last released in 2017 claims a much higher figure of 2.7 million Australians would like a job or to work more hours – including 1.1 million people the ABS said wanted a job but are excluded from the Labour Force.

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

Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says the drops in unemployment and under-employment in August are early signs that consecutive RBA interest rate cuts in June and July as well as the L-NP Government’s income tax cuts are providing a post-election boost to the economy:

Block Quote

“Roy Morgan’s real unemployment and under-employment has dropped to a three year low of 2.13 million (15.8% of the workforce) in August – the lowest since September 2016. Unemployment of 1.179,000 (8.7%) is the lowest since early 2018 while under-employment has dropped to 951,000 (7.1%) and is the lowest for three years since August 2016.

“The L-NP Government’s income tax cuts delivered in July, as well as the RBA’s consecutive interest rate cuts in June and July to a record low of only 1%, have put a firm footing under the economy and provided support after concerns about ongoing economic weakness.

“The latest ABS GDP figures showed the Australian economy grew at a rate of 0.5% in the June quarter 2019 for an annual growth rate of only 1.4% – the lowest for nearly a decade since the March quarter 2011. However, this period was impacted by considerable political uncertainty surrounding the Federal election in May and the slow growth was widely anticipated.

“Since the political uncertainty surrounding the Federal election has cleared economic indicators have improved. Roy Morgan Business Confidence has averaged 114.4 over the last four months (May 2019 – August 2019) which is the highest mid-year average for the rating for five years. In addition a clear majority of 53.1% of businesses now say the next year will be a ‘good time to invest in growing the business’ – a clear indication businesses are increasingly looking for new employees and supporting the employment growth we see in today’s employment figures.

“The positive result today does reflect well on the re-elected L-NP Government however there are several external factors that could negatively influence Australian growth over the next few months including the US-China trade war, the unresolved saga surrounding the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union and even the continuing unrest in Hong Kong that make it essential the Government doesn’t rest on its laurels and continues to undertake the bold reforms necessary to ensure Australia’s economic growth continues.

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

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 640,979 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 – August 2019 and includes 3,768 face-to-face interviews in August 2019. *The ‘under-employed’ are those people who are in part-time work or consultants who are looking for more work.

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 Unemployed and ‘Under-employed’* Estimates

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

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


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 ABS classifies a person as employed if, when surveyed, a person worked for one hour or more during the reference week for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind, or even if a person worked for one hour or more without pay in a family business or on a farm.

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. 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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