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Australia’s employment numbers hit new record in March

Australia's record-high employment masks underlying concerns of under-employment crisis

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Part-time employment represents 84% of the jobs created over the last year.
Australia’s employment figures soared to unprecedented heights.
Policymakers face the challenge of fostering sustainable employment growth.

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In March 2024, Australia’s employment figures soared to unprecedented heights, hitting a record of over 14.26 million employed individuals, according to data released by Roy Morgan. The report reveals a complex landscape where part-time employment surged while full-time opportunities dwindled, raising concerns about under-employment.

The latest statistics indicate a significant increase of 39,000 employed Australians compared to the previous record-high set in February. Notably, part-time employment experienced a substantial uptick, reaching a record high of 5,164,000, marking an increase of 295,000. Conversely, full-time employment witnessed a decline of 256,000, totalling 9,103,000 jobs.

Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan, highlighted the concerning trend of increasing casualisation within the workforce. Levine noted that since March 2023, part-time employment surged by 580,000, representing 84% of the jobs created over the last year, while full-time employment only increased by 113,000, accounting for just 16% of the new jobs.

The rise in part-time employment was mirrored by an increase in under-employment, which climbed by 75,000 individuals to reach 1,576,000 in March 2024. This trend underscores the struggle of Australia’s labour market to provide sufficient opportunities, particularly for those seeking more work.

Levine emphasised the sustained elevation of under-employment over the past six months, indicating an underlying weakness in the economy. She urged the Reserve Bank to consider reducing interest rates, citing the persistent high levels of under-employment as a critical factor.

Despite a decrease of 78,000 in unemployment numbers, totalling 1,358,000 individuals actively seeking employment, concerns linger over the quality and availability of job opportunities. The data revealed 763,000 individuals looking for part-time work and 595,000 seeking full-time employment.

Overall, Australia’s unemployment or under-employment remained largely unchanged, affecting 2,934,000 of the total workforce. Levine stressed the importance of addressing this issue as a top priority for the Federal Government leading into the next election in early 2025.

As Australia grapples with the complexities of its evolving labour market, policymakers face the challenge of fostering sustainable employment growth while addressing the pressing issue of under-employment to ensure the economic well-being of its citizens.

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