Australia’s jobless rate just spiked unexpectedly

Getty/Doug Pensinger

Australian employment growth has missed expectations in January, falling by 7,900 against expectations for an increase of 13,000.

Despite the decline, the second in a row, employment growth from a year earlier rose by 2.57% to 298,300. Total employment now stands at 11,894,500 persons, down from the record high level of 11,903,200 struck in November 2015.

According to the ABS, full time employment fell by 40,600, overshadowing a 32,700 increase in part time employment.

Like January, male employment increased by 9,100, partially offsetting a decline of 17,000 for females.

The number of unemployed increased by 30,200 to 761,400, the largest number seen since September.


With employment missing expectations and the participation rate holding steady at 65.2%, the national unemployment rate rose to 6.0%, up from 5.8% reported previously.

It was the highest level recorded since September 2015, and was the first month since July 2015 that the unemployment rate increased.

While employment among men increased, a 0.2% lift in labour market participation to 71.2% saw the male unemployment rate rise to 6.0% from 5.7% in December. A 0.1% decrease in female participation to 59.4% wasn’t enough to prevent the female unemployment rate ticking up by 0.2% to 6.0%.

From a state and territory perspective, unemployment rose in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland but fell in Western Australia and South Australia, an outcome few would have expected given the divergent economic performance between non-mining and mining states of late.

Indeed, at 5.9% after seasonal adjustments, the unemployment rate in Western Australia is now the second lowest of all the states with the exception of New South Wales.

The table below, supplied by the ABS, reveals the movements in unemployment rates across the country.


Despite the sharp fall in full time employment, the ABS reported that monthly hours worked increased by 10.9 million hours, or 0.7%, to 1,656.0 million hours.

The chart below displays all the key figures from the ABS’ January jobs report.


For those interested in how the survey rotation impacted the January figures, and how it could impact the upcoming February survey, the ABS has detailed analysis that can be accessed here.