Labour Force December 2021: Employment hits another record high, more people in work than pre-COVID

Labour force figures released today by the ABS show that seasonally adjusted employment increased by 64,800 (or 0.5 per cent) in December, to stand at a record high of 13,242,000. Employment is now 246,600 (or 1.9 per cent) above the level recorded in March 2020 (when Australia recorded its 100th case of COVID-19).

  • Full-time employment increased by 41,500 (or 0.5 per cent) over the month, while part-time employment rose by 23,300 (or 0.6 per cent).
  • The rise in employment at the national level was driven, primarily, by increases in New South Wales (up by 32,300 or 0.8 per cent) and Victoria (up by 24,700 or 0.7 per cent).

Against the stronger backdrop, the level of unemployment fell by 62,200 (or 9.8 per cent) over the month, to 574,400 in December. The unemployment rate also declined, from 4.6 per cent in November, to 4.2 per cent in December. This is the lowest unemployment rate recorded since August 2008 and well below the 5.3 per cent recorded in March 2020.

Encouragingly, employment for youth increased by 37,800 (or 2.0 per cent) in December, accounting for more than half of the rise in overall employment.

Acting Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, Anne Ruston, said today’s positive figures showed Australia’s workforce was poised to bounce back following the challenges Omicron had posed.

‘The Morrison Government understands the Omicron variant is posing significant challenges for the labour market but these results are encouraging and show that in December the labour market was as healthy as it had been in 14 years,’ Senator Ruston said.

‘With a record number of Australians in employment and data showing vacancies at 30 per cent higher than at the start of the pandemic, we are turning our attention to how we can fill those positions with Australians who are looking for work right now.

‘We are ensuring jobactive providers take a stronger, more proactive brokerage role in identifying local employment opportunities and referring job seekers to suitable work.

‘We’re investing $7.1 billion this year alone on skills and training, which is double what it was prior to the onset of the pandemic to help match people to job vacancies. In addition, there are a record 220,000 apprentices in trade training, the highest number since records began in 1963.’

The Government is also continuing to back Australia’s small business-led recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by extending the SME Recover Loan Scheme to 30 June 2022. The extension of the scheme will continue to provide unprecedented support for SMEs and will help even more businesses to gain access to the funding they need to adapt, innovate and bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.

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