Women are leading Australia out of the coronavirus recession with unemployment falling in August for the first time since the health pandemic began – creating 111,000 new jobs.
The jobless rate fell from a 22-year high of 7.5 per cent in July to 6.8 per cent last month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed.
Unemployment is still higher than March’s 5.2 per cent level, with that data compiled before the World Health Organisation declared a coronavirus pandemic.
Nonetheless, joblessness has fallen for the first time since February when the Australian share market peaked despite Melbourne recording the first case of COVID-19 in January.
The number of Australians officially without work rose above the one million mark in July for the first time ever but in August, the ranks of the unemployed fell by 86,500 to 921,800 people.
Jobs recovery at a glance
Unemployment rate fell from a 22-year high of 7.5 per cent in July to 6.8 per cent in August
Participation rate rose from 64.7 per cent to 64.8 per cent
Number employed rose by 111,000 to 12,583,400
Jobless ranks fell by 86,500 with women making up 55,000 or 64 per cent of those
Almost two-thirds, or 55,000 of those leaving the unemployment queues, were women.
National unemployment also fell in August despite Melbourne, Australia’s second biggest city, being placed into a strict, Stage Four lockdown with an 8pm to 5am curfew.
Victoria’s unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent was above the national average, as the number of people employed fell by 42,400 as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions.
Of the big states, New South Wales had the lowest unemployment rate of 6.7 per cent.
Tasmania, however, had the lowest unemployment rate among all the states of 6.3 per cent with only the Northern Territory (4.2 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (4.2 per cent) having lower jobless figures.
The states that have closed their borders to some states also experienced a fall in unemployment, with Queensland’s jobless figure declining from 8.8 per cent to 7.5 per cent.
Western Australia’s equivalent jobless rate dropped from 8.3 per cent to seven per cent.
South Australia’s unemployment level remained at 7.9 per cent.
Australia’s youth unemployment also fell from 16.3 per cent to 14.3 per cent.
The good news was announced a fortnight after official figures revealed Australia had sunk into recession for the first time in 29 years with gross domestic product diving by seven per cent in the June quarter.
CommSec chief economist Craig James said the federal government’s $1,500 a fortnight JobKeeper wage subsidies and the $550 a fortnight coronavirus boost to JobSeeker unemployment benefits had boosted spending, which in turn created jobs.
‘These are extraordinary times and the job programs are similarly remarkable,’ he said.
‘There is no doubt that this is a stunning set of job figures.
‘More people were looking for jobs in August, more people found jobs, and more employees reconnected to their workplaces.’