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Unemployment rises above 4% for first time in two years

3 minute read

The ABS has released its latest labour force data, finding Australia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has increased.

The unemployment rate in Australia has grown to 4.1 per cent in January, according to the latest labour force data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The number of unemployed increased by over 22,000, with the unemployment rate rising 0.1 percentage point from its figure in December.

The ABS noted this marks the first time since January 2022 that the rate has been above 4 per cent.


However, it pointed out that similar to January 2022 and 2023, the increase in the unemployment rate in January 2024 coincided with a higher-than-usual number of people who are not employed but plan to start or return to work in the future.

“While there were more unemployed people in January, there were also more unemployed people who were expecting to start a job in the next four weeks,” said Bjorn Jarvis, ABS head of labour statistics.

“This may be an indication of a changing seasonal dynamic within the labour market, around when people start working after the summer holiday period. In January 2022, 2023 and 2024, around 5 per cent of people who were not employed were attached to a job, compared with around 4 per cent in the January surveys prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The seasonally adjusted participation rate and employment-to-population ratio remained well above their pre-pandemic levels at 66.8 per cent and 64.1 per cent, respectively.

Mr Jarvis observed: “In trend terms, the growth in employment has slowed since March 2023. The growth in hours worked has also slowed since March and has been negative since July 2023.

“The increasing unemployment and underemployment rates since late 2022, along with the recent falls in the participation rate and employment-to-population ratio, all point to a slowing labour market during 202324.”

However, it’s important to remember this slowing follows a “particularly tight” labour market during 202223, he added.

More to come.

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja's career in journalism spans well over a decade across finance, business and politics. Now an experienced editor and reporter across all elements of the financial services sector, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies.