The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has warned that the headline unemployment figure – now sitting at 5.5 percent according to data released yesterday (Thursday) by the Australian Bureau of Statistics – does not capture the reality of working life for millions of people.
Large numbers of Australians are unable to find enough work to support themselves or their families, or are trapped in insecure and unreliable employment, the union body noted.
“The headline unemployment number hides the reality that millions of Australian workers are living with – [they are] desperate for more hours or trapped in multiple insecure, unreliable jobs,” ACTU Secretary, Sally McManus, said.
“This problem has become worse with the largest surge of insecure jobs in our nation’s history in the last six months.
First look at job numbers since JobKeeper ended
“Job insecurity feeds low wage growth. The budget assumes consumer spending will increase, but how will it increase if wages go backwards?”
The release of the latest unemployment data by the ABS gives the country its first look at the job numbers since the JobKeeper program was ended on 28 March.
A snapshot of the figures shows that unemployment fell from 5.7 percent in March to 5.5 percent in April. This is not far off the pre-pandemic unemployment rate.
But the figure was aided by the reality that the number of people looking for work dropped significantly.
ABS indicates a net loss in jobs of just over 30,000
The ABS said full-time employment increased by 33,800 people, but part-time work fell by 64,400 – meaning a net loss in jobs of just over 30,000.
“Some of the fall in employment may relate to the end of JobKeeper, but it could also reflect usual month-to-month variation in the labour market and some larger than usual seasonal changes similar to those we saw earlier in the year,” said the Head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, Bjorn Jarvis.
The ACTU noted that the resurgence of insecure jobs in the aftermath of the pandemic was recreating “extreme vulnerability” for millions of Australians and was forcing many people to piece together a living from multiple part-time, insecure jobs.
“The number of people working two, three or more jobs has reached the highest share in the history of ABS statistics on this issue,” the union body said.