Australia’s unemployment rate in December remains flat at 3.5%

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Australia’s unemployment rate remained at 3.5 per cent in December 2022 in line with the updated results for November, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

Employment decreased by approximately 15,000 people, while the number of unemployed showed an uptick of 6,000, resulting in a flat result, ABS Labour Statistics Head Lauren Ford explained. 

“The seasonally adjusted participation rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 66.6 per cent in December, back to around where it was in October. Despite this slight fall from its historic high, it finished the year 0.8 percentage points higher than its pre-pandemic level,” Ford said

The fluctuation in employment in December followed an increase of 58,000 people in November and an average monthly growth of around 40,000 people between August and November 2022. 

The employment to population to ration also slipped by 0.2 points to 64.3 per cent. The ratio continued to remain elevated standing at 1.9 points above the pre-pandemic level. 

Month hours worked also decreased by 0.5 per cent for the second consecutive month, following the peak in October. 

“The falls in employment and hours worked in December followed strong growth through 2022, with an annual employment growth rate of 3.4 per cent and hours worked increasing by 3.2 per cent,” Ford said. “The strong employment growth through 2022, along with high participation and low unemployment, continues to reflect a tight labour market.”

Meanwhile, trend employment increased by 27,000 in December 2022, and trend monthly hours worked increased 0.3 per cent. This figure follows the ongoing pace of underlying growth in employment and hours worked seen in 2022. 

“The monthly trend employment increase of 0.19 per cent in December was slightly above the average rate we saw in the 20 years before the pandemic, of around 0.16 per cent per month,” the ABS official added. 

“The growth rate in December was around half of what it was for the first half of 2022 (an average of 0.37 per cent per month), and also slightly below the average for the second half of 2022 (0.21 per cent). This shows the strong employment growth had moderated through the year, but was still above the long-term average.”