Significant recent pick-up in labour market activity
The December 2021 quarter was characterised by a significant pick-up in Australian labour market activity.
The Australian labour market has weathered the impact of the global pandemic reasonably well. While the outbreak of the Delta variant and associated lockdowns had a significant, negative impact on the labour market for much of the second half of 2021, activity has rebounded strongly in recent months, reflected in strong growth in both labour demand and supply. Consequently:
- total employment, total hours worked and the employment-to-population ratio are now all at record highs;
- the participation rate is close to its record high achieved earlier in 2021;
- the unemployment rate has reached its lowest rate since August 2008;
- the underemployment rate is now at its lowest rate since November 2008 and;
- internet job advertisements have reached their highest level since 2008 (in November 2021).
Despite the strong recovery at the end 2021, Omicron poses some uncertainty for the labour market in the short-term. That said, the RBA has stated ‘while Omicron has delayed the recovery of the Australian economy, it has not derailed it’. Indeed, information from the RBA’s business liaison program suggests demand for workers remains strong, despite the disruptive labour market effects from Omicron.