Release type: Media Release


New ABS Labour Force Figures


The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for the Arts

New labour force figures confirm the time is right to make the shift to stronger wage growth and increased job security.

The data released by the ABS today show a continued disconnect between the unemployment rate and working conditions.

For years, we’ve been told that lower unemployment would automatically lead to wages growth and a better deal for workers.

That hasn’t happened.

That’s why the Albanese Labor Government is taking action to boost job security and get wages moving.

Our submission to the Fair Work Commission’s annual wage review – which resulted in yesterday’s 5.2 per cent minimum wage increase - was just the first step.

Labor’s plan includes making job security an object of the Fair Work Act, getting a better deal for gig workers, stopping the labour hire rorts that are undermining wages, making wage theft a crime, limiting the use of fixed-term contracts and ensuring a better deal for women.

Today’s figures show:

  • Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 60,600 in May 2022, to stand at a record high of 13,510,900. Employment has now risen for seven consecutive months and is 508,600 (or 3.9 per cent) above the level recorded in March 2020 (when Australia recorded its 100th case of COVID-19).
  • Full-time employment increased by 69,400 (or 0.7 per cent) over the month, to a record high of 9,443,400 in May, and is now 574,400 (or 6.5 per cent) above the level recorded in March 2020.
  • Part-time employment decreased by 8,700 (or 0.2 per cent) in May, to 4,067,500 and is 65,800 (or 1.6 per cent) below the level recorded in March 2020.
  • The employment to population ratio increased from 63.8 per cent in April 2022, to a record high of 64.1 per cent in May 2022.
  • Labour market conditions for young people improved as well, with youth employment increasing by 22,000 (or 1.1 per cent) over the month, to a record high of 2,022,800 in May 2022. The youth unemployment rate was steady, at 8.8 per cent in May 2022.
  • The participation rate increased by 0.3 percentage points over the month, to a record high of 66.7 per cent in May 2022, as stronger labour market conditions encouraged more people to enter the labour force.
  • Against the stronger backdrop, the unemployment rate was unchanged over the month, at 3.9 per cent in May 2022.
  • Encouragingly the underemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points over the month, to 5.7 per cent in May 2022. This is the lowest rate recorded since August 2008, immediately prior to the Global Financial Crisis.

These figures underscore the underlying strength and resilience of the Australian labour market. But despite the ongoing strength in the labour market, the latest ABS Wage Price Index data (for the March quarter 2022) shows only 2.4 per cent growth in wages over the year.

Against this backdrop, the Government’s Secure Australian Jobs Plan will deliver more secure jobs, better pay and a fairer industrial relations system.