Australia labour market – weakening under the brunt of poor policy, 10.7 per cent underutilisation rate

Today (February 15, 2024), the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest – Labour Force, Australia – for January 2024, which confirms a weakening in the labour market. The signs of a slowdown were appearing in late 2023 and the January figures probably confirm that trend, although the changing holiday behaviour makes it difficult to be definitive. We will know more next month when the holiday period effects wash out. Employment growth was unable to even keep pace with the underlying population growth, which is why unemployment rose with participation constant. The best indicators that the labour market is weakening are the fall in the employment-to-population rate since November 2023 (down 0.5 points) and the sharp decline over the last few months in hours worked. It also appears that the slowdown is impacting teenagers disproportionately. There are now 10.7 per cent of the available and willing working age population who are being wasted in one way or another – either unemployed or underemployed and that proportion is increasing. Australia is not near full employment despite the claims by the mainstream commentators and it is hard to characterise this as a ‘tight’ labour market.

Read more
Back To Top