More than 70,000 Australians found new jobs in March as the economy continued to bounce back from the pandemic recession.
Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday shows the unemployment rate fell from 5.8 per cent to 5.6 per cent as consumers maintained an upbeat view of the economy.
Full-time employment decreased by 20,800 while part-time employment increased by 91,500.
ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said there were more employed Australians in March 2021 than in March 2020, with the number of hours worked across the economy also up year on year.
The participation rate, which refers to the proportion of working-age adults who have a job or are seeking one, also increased 0.2 percentage points to a historic high of 66.3 per cent.
“In March 2021, 62.6 per cent of people over 15 were employed, which was higher than March 2020 (62.4 per cent),” Mr Jarvis said in a written statement.
“The proportion of women employed was the highest it’s ever been (58.5 per cent), half a percentage point higher than in March 2020, while the proportion of men employed remained slightly lower than before the pandemic (66.8 per cent, compared with 67.0 per cent in March 2020).”
The change in the jobless rate was broadly in line with market expectations.
ANZ economists had tipped an unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent on the back of 25,000 new jobs while Commonwealth Bank had estimated a gain of 45,000 jobs and a new jobless rate of 5.6 per cent.
It’s another sign that the economy is recovering from the recession much faster than anticipated, but the data does not capture the effects of the removal of the $90 billion JobKeeper scheme, because the monthly survey refers to the first half of March.
Treasury officials estimated the end of the wage subsidy program would result in the loss of some 150,000 jobs. And labour market economist Jeff Borland, from the University of Melbourne, has put out similar forecasts.
Professor Borland believes between 100,000 and 200,000 people would have lost their jobs when JobKeeper ended on March 28.
He told The New Daily before the release of the March labour force data that the recent string of better-than-expected economic data had not affected these estimates.
But he said the high number of jobs vacancies meant people would have an easier time finding a replacement job.
The ABS data was published just hours after employment site SEEK reported a massive 75 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of job ads on its platform.
Employers in March posted the highest number of job ads in a month in SEEK’s 23-year history.
“What a difference a year makes,” said SEEK ANZ managing director Kendra Banks.
“In mid-March 2020, we saw COVID have a swift and extreme impact on the labour market – 12 months on and we have seen the highest number of job ads posted on SEEK in a month than at any time in our more than 23-year history.”