Labour Market Update: December 2021 quarter

Labour Market Update: December 2021 quarter

The December 2021 quarter was characterised by a significant pick-up in Australian labour market activity.

While the outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and associated lockdowns had a significant, negative impact on the labour market for much of the second half of 2021, the final months of the year saw strong growth in both labour demand and supply.

Many key labour market indicators hit recent or record peaks:

  • Total employment, total hours worked and the employment-to-population ratio all reached record highs
  • The participation rate was close to its record high achieved earlier in 2021
  • The unemployment and underemployment rates reached their lowest points since 2008
  • Internet job advertisements reached their highest level since 2008

The increase in employment and job advertisements were driven by the easing of lockdowns and restrictions in a number of jurisdictions during the period. Not surprisingly, New South Wales (up by 230,000 or 5.9%) and Victoria (up by 113,800 or 3.4%) recorded the largest increases in employment over the period.

A significant rise in the hours worked was seen in the quarter. Nationally, the number of hours people worked increased by 92.1 million hours (or 5.3%) over the 3 months to December 2021.

The proportion of employers recruiting (currently or in the past month) stood at 51% in December 2021, an increase of 15 percentage points since September 2021. Over this same period the recruitment rate in Capital Cities (48%) and Rest of State areas (55%) increased by 12 and 19 percentage points respectively.

Read our full quarterly Labour Market Update here.