ABS August unemployment estimate ignores the 232,000 Australians who have left the workforce since March, 2020

Original article by Michele Levine, Gary Morgan, Julian McCrann
Market Research Update – Page: Online : 18-Sep-20

The ABS unemployment estimate for August 2020 claims 922,000 Australians were unemployed (6.8% of the workforce), a surprise drop of 0.7% points on July 2020. However, the ABS claims 232,000 Australians have left the workforce since March – meaning the participation rate dropped from 66% to 64.8% in August. If the ABS participation rate was steady at 66% there would now be 1.18 million unemployed. In addition, within the ABS employment release is a section indicating 151,800 Australians the ABS counts as employed were working zero hours in August and had ‘no work, not enough work available, or were stood down’. If these non-workers are added the adjusted ABS unemployment estimate is 1.33 million – an unemployment rate of 9.7%. Combined with the ABS under-employment estimate of 1.52 million that would be 2.85 million Australians unemployed or under-employed in August – 20.7% of the Australian workforce. This ‘adjusted’ ABS estimate is close to Roy Morgan’s unemployment & under-employment estimate of 22.8% for August released two weeks ago.


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