Jobless rate tumbles to 4% – what it means for employers

Good news on the unemployment front keeps coming, demonstrating Australia’s economic resilience.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February is just 4% – a fall of 0.2% on the January number, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

It’s the lowest figure since August 2008 and only the third time unemployment has been 4% or less since the ABS began recording monthly data. The lowest-ever rates were back in 1974 when the data was produced quarterly.

Employment increased for a fourth successive month, with approximately 77,000 jobs created. ABS numbers show an additional 202,000 Australians are now employed than when COVID-19 hit more than two years ago.

Signs of our workforce recovering from the pandemic are also evident in the latest data. Hours worked rebounded +8.9% in February, having tumbled -8.6% in January as Omicron made its mark on our communities.

We’re just 0.2% under the recent high for hours worked, which was achieved last May before the impacts of the virus took hold in Australia.

Abnormally high rates of Australians registering no work hours in an entire week due to illness remains 80% higher than the long-term averages. However, in January, this figure was triple the usual rate – so that’s another sign the virus’s impact on our economy is waning.

If you’re an employer, it may mean you find it harder to find staff, or need to offer tempting packages to encourage good people to join you. 

The figures also show strong employment gains for women. 

At 3.8%, female unemployment is the lowest since May 1974. The rate for men fell to 4.2%, which is their best result since November 2008.

The participation rate rose 0.2% to 66.4% of the population – an all-time high.

The ABS Head of Labour Statistics, Bjorn Jarvis, said the increase in participation is “particularly pronounced for women, rising 0.2% to a record high of 62.4%.

This is 1.2% higher than when the pandemic began, he said.

The overall participation rate of Australians in the workforce is 0.6 percentage points higher than at the start of the pandemic.

If hiring staff is part of your business goals and you would like to speak with a broker, reach out. We can talk you through your options and help you find the right financing solution to grow your business.