Unemployment has jumped to 4.6 percent and fell from a 13-year low of 4.5 percent in August.
About 138,000 jobs were lost between August and September as a result of severe shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
“Extended lockdowns in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have seen employment and working hours both fall back below their prepandemic levels,” said Björn Jarvis, head of labor statistics at ABS.
“In September 2021, there were 111,000 fewer employees (0.9 percent) and 2.0 percent fewer working hours than in March 2020.”
This comes at the back of a 146,300 jobs that fell in August.
The reason why unemployment fell in August despite a large number of job losses was because people simply gave up looking for work.
The official unemployment rate only counts people who are actively looking for work.
Lockdowns had a significant impact
With a combined share of close to 60 per cent of Australia’s employed population, changes in the labor market in New South Wales and Victoria had a major impact on national figures.
“In September, there was a big drop in employment in Victoria (123,000 people) and New South Wales (25,000 people, after 173,000 falls in August),” Jarvis said.
The turnout fell 0.7 percentage points to 64.5 percent, marking the third month in a row monthly decline from the near-historic high of 66.2 percent in June 202.
There has been a continuing pattern of large declines in participation during lockdowns.
“The low national unemployment rate continues to reflect reduced participation during recent lockdowns, rather than strong labor market conditions,” Jarvis said.
On the flip side, working hours rose 0.9 percent in September, a slight improvement from the fall in August.
Job opportunities on the horizon
There are already signs that the labor market is turning after the latest SEEK Employment Report found that job ads rose 6 percent in September.
This was the first increase since April and a positive sign of future employment as the country begins to roll out reopening efforts.
NSW saw a particularly strong 20.6 percent increase in job ads for the month, with roles in hospitality and tourism rising by 130 percent since August.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg believes there is now “light at the end of the tunnel” where NSW are out of lockdown and Victoria will follow suit later this month.
ACT is also on track to reopen Friday.
However, Frydneberg has warned that the highly anticipated economic contraction in the quarter in September could be 3 percent or more.
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