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'Strong and resilient': Jobless rate tumbles to lowest in more than a decade

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Australia’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9 per cent in June, with Queensland’s jobless figure also tumbling to 5.1 per cent, the best result in more than a decade.

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Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the result was a further sign of the economy’s strength and resilience in the face of virus lockdowns.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick said the figures confirmed the state was the first in Australia to recover all its jobs lost during the pandemic.

“Our unemployment rate is now at 5.1 per cent, down 0.3 percentage points from last month and at a level not seen in more than 12 years,” he said.

The 4.9 per cent national figure dropped from 5.1 per cent previously, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics said was the eighth consecutive monthly fall and was now the lowest since December 2010.

The decline came as 29,100 people joined the workforce in June.

Full-time employment jumped by 51,600 in the month, but was partly offset by a 22,500 decline in part-time workers.

“The declining unemployment rate continues to coincide with employers reporting high levels of job vacancies and difficulties in finding suitable people for them,” ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said.

Frydenberg said the jobs figures take into account the recent virus lockdown in Victoria, but not the current shutdown underway in NSW.

“There is still a long way to go to secure our economic recovery,” he said.

“But Australia’s economy is resilient, it is strong, and today’s job numbers underline that very fact.”

BIS Oxford Economics chief economist Sarah Hunter said while the lockdown in NSW had been extended to the end of July, the latest data suggests the impact on employment would hopefully be limited.

“Assuming the current outbreaks are contained, it is likely that employment will continue to rise and the unemployment rate will fall,” Hunter said.

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe wants to see full employment before considering raising the cash rate, which he believes will need to see the jobless rate close to four per cent.

RBC Capital Markets chief economist Su-Lin Ong said the unemployment rate had not been consistently below five per cent since 2008, just prior to the global financial crisis.

However, the RBA had forecast the rate still being 5.25 per cent in June, and five per cent by the end of the year.

“This will give the RBA some comfort as it assesses the likely impact of the current lockdown and changing circumstances,” Ong said.

Forward indicators of employment, such as job advertising, remain strong.

While the latest SEEK employment report showed new job ads easing 1.3 per cent in June, they remain 91.6 per cent higher than June 2020, and 23.7 per cent up on June 2019.

June is traditionally a slightly quieter posting month as it is the end of the financial year,” SEEK managing director Kendra Banks said.

“Many businesses hold off advertising new roles until July, when budgets are handed down and priorities for the coming financial year are set.”

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