Seasonally adjusted employment fell by 146,000 people (1.1 percent) and hours worked dropped by 3.7 percent in August 2021, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Bjorn Jarvis, Head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, said the latest data covered the first two weeks of August, which included the continued lockdown in New South Wales, new lockdowns in Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, and a series of changes in restrictions in other parts of the country.
“Labour market changes in New South Wales continued to have a large influence on the national employment and hours worked figures. In August, there were big falls in New South Wales in both employment (-173,000) and hours worked (-6.5 percent),” he stated.
Large falls for NSW in both July and August
“The large falls in employment and hours in New South Wales in August followed falls in July (37,000 and 7.0 percent), with employment and hours down by 210,000 people and 13 percent since the beginning of the lockdown in late June.”
Other states and territories that were in lockdown for part of the first two weeks of August also recorded large falls in hours worked. These included Victoria (-3.4 percent), Queensland (-5.3 percent) and the Australian Capital Territory (-2.5 percent).
The national participation rate fell by 0.8 percentage points to 65.2 per cent, following a 0.2 percentage point fall in July. This was underpinned by a large drop in the New South Wales participation rate, down 2.5 percentage points. There was also a 1 percentage point fall in the previous month.
Also a big drop in participation, says ABS
“The fall in the unemployment rate reflects a large fall in participation during the recent lockdowns, rather than a strengthening in labour market conditions,” Jarvis explained.
“Throughout the pandemic we have seen large falls in participation during lockdowns – a pattern repeated over the past few months.
“Beyond people losing their jobs, we have seen unemployed people drop out of the labour force, given how difficult it is to actively look for work and be available for work during lockdowns. This has also coincided with a temporary pause in mutual obligations for jobseekers living in lockdown areas.”