How is the job market in Australia?

This article is recommended for both employers and job seekers

March to February, 2024

The Australian job market experienced notable changes from March to April 2024, revealing a mix of fluctuations in employment, participation rates, and working hours.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the latest data, providing insights into key indicators that reflect the health of the nation's employment landscape.

Changes in employment

According to the latest data, overall employment increased by 38,500 people, marking a 0.3% rise from 14,261,500 to 14,300,000 employed individuals. Despite this growth, there were significant underlying changes within the composition of the workforce and indicators of employment quality.

One of the most striking trends was the contrasting movements in full-time and part-time employment. Full-time employment saw a decline of 6,100 people, bringing the total number of full-time workers down to 9,845,300 people. Conversely, part-time employment surged by 44,600, reaching a total of 4,454,700 people. This shift suggests that while more people found jobs, a significant number of these were part-time positions, which can indicate underemployment and potential economic insecurity for workers seeking full-time roles.

Despite the increase in the number of employed individuals, the total monthly hours worked across all jobs remained unchanged at 1,962 million hours. This stagnation in work hours might be attributed to the rise in part-time positions, which typically involve fewer hours compared to full-time employment.

The participation rate saw a marginal increase from 66.6% to 66.7%. Both male and female participation rates edged up slightly, with men's participation rising from 70.6% to 70.8% and women's from 62.7% to 62.8%. The employment-to-population ratio, however, remained steady at 64.0%, indicating that the proportion of the working-age population currently employed did not change.

Changes in employment

Employed people - April 2024
Employment-to-population ratio - April 2024
Monthly hours worked in all jobs - April 2024
Participation rate - April 2024

Changes in unemployment

The unemployment rate increased from 3.9% to 4.1%, with the number of unemployed individuals rising by 30,300 (5.3%) from 573,900 to 604,200. This increase in unemployment, coupled with the rise in part-time jobs, highlights potential challenges in the labour market where finding stable, full-time employment may be becoming more difficult.

Furthermore, the underemployment rate, which measures those employed but desiring more work hours, ticked up from 6.5% to 6.6%. Similarly, the underutilisation rate, which combines both the unemployed and underemployed, increased from 10.3% to 10.7%. These metrics underscore a growing issue of insufficient work hours and the prevalence of part-time or less secure employment opportunities.

Changes in unemployment | How is the job market in Australia?

Unemployment rate - April 2024
Underemployment rate and underutilisation rate - April 2024

Conclusion | How is the job market in Australia?

As Australia navigates through early 2024, the job market presents a blend of growth and challenges. While the increase in overall employment is a positive sign, the underlying trends of rising part-time work and higher unemployment rates indicate that there are still significant hurdles to achieving a robust and fully satisfying employment landscape. Policymakers and business leaders will need to focus on creating more full-time job opportunities and addressing the underemployment issues to ensure sustainable economic health and improved quality of life for Australian workers.

If you're interested in taking a closer look at the job market in Western Australia, you can click the button below to watch our latest Perth job market update video where we analyse the factors influencing the number of job ads posted on SEEK for Perth, as well as what the result may be for job seekers and business owners.


Christian Madsen

What are your thoughts?

I'd love to have a conversation with you about this topic - please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or opinions 🙂

Christian Madsen

Managing Director of 11 Recruitment

  • Derek Wright says:

    Thanks for the update! It’s interesting to see how the employment stats have essentially returned to follow the same trend as before COVID-19.

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