Australian labour market – employment grows but overall still marking time

Today (June 13, 2024), the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest – Labour Force, Australia – for May 2024, which provides some increased clarity given the last few months have generated data that has been mixed in signal. The data for May 2024 shows employment continuing to increase, unemployment falling, and the participation rate steady. Taken together the demand-side of the labour market is running just ahead of the underlying population growth, although working hours are falling. Some clarity but it is still not absolutely clear which way the labour market is heading. The net change in employment was driven by full-time employment. But we should not disregard the fact that there is now 10.7 per cent of the working age population (1.6 million people) who are available and willing but cannot find enough work – 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.

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