Economy in recovery mode, not enough new jobs: what does this mean for ECEC?
Latest figures from the Roy Morgan employment series data show that, for the first time since the initial shock of COVID-19 in March/April 2020, there are more jobs available for Australians, and more people are looking for work.
Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says the results for December 2020 show an economy in recovery mode, but reveal a troubling twist – there simply aren’t enough new jobs for Australians joining the workforce.
As stimulus and support measures wind down, Ms Levine said, there are many Australians keen to re-enter the workforce and find new employment, however issues of unemployment and under-employment persist.
Over 12.6 million Australians were employed in December 2020 (up 210,000 since November 2020) and 1.72 million (up 44,000) were unemployed (up 0.1 per cent to 12.0 per cent of the workforce).
The Australian workforce in December 2020 numbered 14,373,000 – comprising 12,649,000 employed Australians and 1,724,000 unemployed Australians looking for work. The workforce was up by 254,000 as both employment increased (+210,000) and unemployment also increased (+44,000).
Queensland saw the biggest surge in employment, moving up 168,000 from the month prior, followed by New South Wales, which saw 103,000 roles filled. In total, over 12.6 million Australians were employed in December 2020 – the highest since early March 2020.
There was an increase in full-time employment up 53,000 to 8,151,000 and part-time employment, up 157,000 to 4,498,000.
1,724,000 Australians were unemployed (12.0 per cent of the workforce), up 44,000 from November 2020. There were more people looking for full-time work, up 18,000 to 797,000 and part-time work, up 26,000 to 927,000.
Roy Morgan acknowledged that its unemployment figure of 12 per cent for December 2020 is “significantly higher than the current ABS estimate for November 2020 of 6.8 per cent.”
“However, the ABS figure for November counts an additional 82,000 Australians who were working zero hours in November for economic reasons as ‘employed’,” a spokesperson explained.
If these non-workers are added back the ABS unemployment estimate for November 2020 increases to in excess of 1.02 million (7.4 per cent). The ABS also claims there are an additional 1.3 million Australians (9.4 per cent) under-employed for a total of 2.33 million unemployed or under-employed (16.8 per cent of the workforce).
In addition to those who were unemployed, 1.36 million Australians (9.4 per cent of the workforce) were under-employed – working part-time but looking for more work. This was an increase of 73,000 on the month prior, driven by an increase in part time employment that hit a record high of 4.5 million in December 2020.
Nearly a quarter of Australia’s workforce (21 per cent) were either unemployed or under-employed in December 2020, an increase of 117,000 on the month prior as all key metrics rose including full-time employment, part-time employment and unemployment according to the latest Roy Morgan employment estimates.
Compared to early March, before the nation-wide lockdown was implemented, in December there were over 900,000 more Australians either unemployed or under-employed (+5.8 percentage points).
“However, since the COVID-19 pandemic began to heavily impact Australia in mid-March 2020 there are now an extra 900,000 Australians either unemployed or under-employed which will make for a very competitive jobs market for those currently looking for new work,” Ms Levine said.
Those seeking employment have the best chance in NSW, and should avoid South Australia
Unemployment in NSW is now the lowest in the nation, and a review of trends on a state-based level shows that unemployment in NSW is dropping sharply.
Unemployment was virtually unchanged in Queensland at 13.2 per cent as despite many new jobs being created (+168,000) they didn’t lower the number of Queenslanders looking for work which remained at 384,000.
The picture has darkened in Victoria which now has more people unemployed than any other State with 513,000 people looking for work in December 2020, up 75,000 on November 2020 as the economy continues to open following a long period of lockdown. The unemployment rate has jumped to 13.2 per cent, up 1.6 per cent on November.
In both Western Australia and South Australia the re-opening economies saw increases in unemployment in December with the unemployment rate up 1.4 per cent to 13.6 per cent in WA and up 4.1 per cent to 18.8 per cent in South Australia.
“The increasing workforce presents somewhat of a mixed picture because although there are new jobs being created – part-time employment is at a new record high and overall employment is now the highest it has been since early March last year – there are clearly not enough jobs to go around for all those looking for new employment,” Ms Levine said.
“There is likely to be a continuing high level of unemployment over the next few months as Government stimulus such as the JobKeeper wage subsidy winds down and the repayment holidays offered by banks and financial institutions for mortgages and other loans are also ended.”
This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 727,791 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 and December 2020 and includes 7,662 telephone and online interviews in December 2020.
The ‘under-employed’ are those people who are in part-time work or freelancers who are looking for more work.