July Labour Force Survey. Total employment +114.7k of which full-time was +43.5k and part-time 71.2k. Unemployment lifted 0.1ppt to 7.5%.

  • Total employment surged a further 114.7k in July, a solid gain following on from the robust 252.0k bounce in June (revised from 210.8k) which is a solid 343.1k reversal from the sharp –871.5k contraction through April and May.
  • The COVID shutdowns hit part-time employment particularly hard through April and May (–533.7k over the two months) and so we were not surprised to see the recovery to date is also focused on part-time employment. Lifting a further 71.2k in July part-time employment is now up 323.2k in two months more than half way to reversing the –533.7k fall in April and May.
  • Compare that to full-time employment which had a smaller –337.8k fall through April and May but since then a softer recovery with the 43.5k bounce in July following the further –23.6k fall in June. Since May, full-time employment is up just 19.9k.
  • Through June and into July the easing in COVID restrictions and the recovery in activity resulted in a surge in people re-entering the workforce. With a focus of job losses, then recovery, being more in part-time employment this saw a rapid collapse, then solid bounce in participation as these less attached workers left the labour force only to quickly re-enter as employment conditions improved. In the month, an extra 130.5k entered the workforce following on from a +299.1k gain in June, lifting the participation rate to 64.7% from 64.1%.
  • As a result of the larger rise in the labour force compared to the rise in employment, the unemployment rate lifted to 7.5% from 7.4%.
  • Even though all the gains in employment were part-time, underemployment continues to drift lower reflecting the strong rise in hours worked compared to the gain in employment. In the month underemployment fell –0.5ppt to 11.2% but it is still significantly higher than the 8.8% reported back in March.
  • Monthly hours worked increased 1.3% in July, a larger increase than that seen for employed people (+0.9%). In July, the average hours worked per employed person was around 31.1 hours per week.
  • The July survey did provide some insight into the Australian labour market during Stage 3 restrictions in Vic. In the month, the recovery in part-time employment continued (+44.4k) but there was a solid contraction in full-time employment (–21.5k) leaving a stead +22.9k gain in total employment. In NSW, part-time employment remain the focus of the recovery (+33.6k) but full-time also printed a health recovery (+23.5k) for a total rise of 56.8k. WA did outperform with a 19.1k gain in employment but it was all part-time while employment contracted in Qld (–3.7k) with a contraction in part-time employment(–14.9k) outpacing the rise in full-time employment (+11.2k).
  • Somewhat surprising was the reported rise in unemployment in NSW (7.2% from 6.9%) compared to the fall in unemployment in Vic (6.8% from 7.5%) but as you can see from the employment numbers it was more about a rise in participation in NSW (64.8% from 6.7%) as well as a fall in participation in Vic (64.6% from 64.7%) than stronger demand for labour.

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