48 Mind-blowing Unemployment Statistics in Australia

unemployment statistics in Australia

These are tough times for workers everywhere. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging worldwide, and millions of people losing jobs, it’s getting harder and harder to find and hold down good employment these days. Unemployment statistics are dire everywhere, but today we’ll take a look at the situation in Australia.

Let’s get right into it.

Quick unemployment stats from the land down under

  • The employment rate of migrants is 1,2% higher than Native Australians’.
  • Tasmania is the state with the highest unemployment rate in Australia with 7%.
  • 21,2% of families were jobless in Australia in 2020.
  • NSW had 4,093,500 employed people in 2021.
  • 66,7% of Australia’s workforce consisted of men in 2021.
  • 8% of jobs are advertised through newspapers.
  • Almost half of the labour force in ACT is female.
  • There were 756,557 recipients of NSA or YA.
  • 600,000 Australians lost their jobs in April 2020.
  • 8,889,500 people worked full-time in 2021.

 Unemployment Statistics in Australia

1. As of August 2021, the unemployment rate in Australia was 4,5%.

(Statista) (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

When we take a look at how many people are unemployed in Australia currently, a positive trend emerges. There are 106,100 fewer cases of unemployment in Australia compared to March 2020.

The ABS Labour Force Survey recorded a downfall in unemployment across most sectors, showing that the current unemployment rate in Australia is down to just 617,100 in August of 2021. Youth unemployment is up to 10.7%, but still lower than it was in March of last year.

2. The rate of unemployed people aged 55-64 peaked at 5,03% in March 2020.

(OECD) (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

According to ABS, the youth unemployment rate came down to 10,6% with a fall of 1,1%. The youth unemployment statistics in Australia point out that the rate of younger people with no jobs in Australia was 3,4% lower than in April 2020 and 1,0% lower than March 2020.

3. The female unemployment rate in Australia was 4,8% during 2019-2020.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

ABS unemployment stats show that men and women between 20-74 years of age had quite similar unemployment rates with men standing at 4,9%. Women between 40 and 59 years had the lowest unemployment rate. The age group from 40-44 saw a higher jobless rate of 4,8%, while women aged 55-59 experienced the least unemployment trouble with 3,8%.

The male population between 30 and 49 years had the lowest unemployment rate among men aged under 65 years with 3,9%. On the contrary, most of the men who are jobless in Australia are aged 45-49, settling at 4,0%. 

4. Native Australians’ unemployment rate was 1,2% lower than migrants’ in 2019.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

People born in Australia have a generally lower unemployment rate of 4,7%. Having said that, various groups of migrants had diverse rates. Migrants in possession of a permanent visa have the highest unemployment rate with 9,2%. Coming up next are the temporary residents of Australia with 4,8%. Lastly, migrants with Australian citizenship experienced the lowest unemployment rate in Australia at 3,3%. 

5. 22.45% of the total people jobless in Australia in February 2020 had a degree.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Australia has noticed a rise in unemployed people with degrees since May 2019. Back then, there were 694,300 people with no jobs in Australia, of which 129,600 had a degree. 

The unemployment rate in Australia was significantly higher in February 2020, when 761,100 were jobless and 170,900 of them had completed a degree. 

A drastic surge in unemployment is noticeable in November 2020 with 877,500. 204,400 of the affected finished a degree in higher education.

6. Tasmania had the highest unemployment rate in Australia in 2019 with 7%.

(Statista) (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Taking a look at the Australian unemployment rate by state, Tasmania remains in the first place moving into 2021 with an unemployment rate of 6,2% in April. ABS recorded a monthly change of 0,2%.

Falling right behind we have Queensland with 6,1% in April 2021. A very slim difference is noticeable since 2019 when Queensland’s unemployment rate was 6%.

South Australia’s unemployment rate of 5,7% settles in at a third place. Southerners had an unemployment rate of 6,3% in 2019.

7. Victoria and NSW’s unemployment rate reached 5,5% in April 2021. 

(Statista) (Australian Bureau of Statistics) (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

The unemployment in Victoria went up by 1,0% since 2019, while NSW had an unemployment rate of 3,9% the same year. Additionally, Melbourne’s unemployment rate in March 2021 was 6,8%. The unemployment in Melbourne has gone down since March 2020, when the rate was 5,6%.

The Western Australian unemployment rate finishes last together with the Northern Territory. Both states have the lowest unemployment rate in Australia with 4,9% and 3,8% respectively.

8. The total harmonized unemployment rate in Australia in March 2021 was 5,62%.


Australia has noticed a steady drop in harmonized unemployment since July 2020 when the rate was 7,48%. February 2020 noticed a significantly lower rate of 5,08%.

9. 527,100 Australians were looking for a full-time job in April 2021.

(Trading Economics) (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

The number of people looking to work full-time went down by 26,000 in April 2021. Out of 756,200 people with no jobs in Australia, 229,200 were looking for a part-time job. 

10. 1,5 million families were jobless in Australia in June 2020.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

21,2% of all Aussie families were unemployed in June 2020. These families all had a family member over 15 years who was out of the labour force, unemployed, or retired.

133,000 of jobless families were couples with dependants, with 86,5% of them having children under 15.

32,1% of all one-parent families with dependants were unemployed. 86,6% of the single-parent families with dependants had children under 15.

The biggest number of jobless families don’t have dependants. That makes 1,2 million unemployed families with no dependants, 90,2% of which were couples.

Unemployment Payments

11. 756,557 people were recipients of NSA or YA in September 2019.

(Australian Council of Social Service)

ABS recorded 715,600 unemployed people in September 2019. An obvious overlap of the unemployment payments with the unemployment figures in Australia is noticeable the same month.

Australia helps its unemployed citizens stay afloat by offering two main unemployment benefits: NSA and YA. The Newstart Allowance has recently been renamed to Jobseeker Payment, while the Youth Allowance benefits represent student payments for full-time students and Australian apprentices aged 16-24.

12. 11% of unemployment benefits recipients are single parents.

(Australian Council of Social Service)

Taking a peek behind the scenes of Australian unemployment as the media presents it, we notice various cultural backgrounds and ages of the people receiving support payments.

Landing a job is an equally tough ordeal for groups other than sole parents. These groups are often discriminated in the job market and are in need of government welfare assistance.

41% of NSA or YA recipients are disabled, 12% have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, while 12% come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Australian Employment Statistics

13. The employment rate in Australia decreased by 30,600 people in April 2021.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Now that we have covered some unemployment stats, let’s look on the bright side for a moment and see how many people are employed in Australia. 

Until April 2021, the employment rate increased by 637,900 people. However, employment in Australia dropped by 0,2% in April 2021, with 13,040,400 employed people that month.

Moreover, the employment-to-population ratio was 62,3%, which is a 2,8% decrease since April 2020.

14. There were 8,889,500 people employed full-time in April 2021.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics) (OECD)

According to the Labour Force Survey, the number of people doing full-time work in Australia increased by 33,800 in April 2021. On the other hand, there were 4,150,900 people in Australia with part-time jobs, representing a decline of 64,400 people.

 ABS employment data shows a surge of 24,600 people in full-time employment and 21,300 people who work part-time since March 2020. In addition, the temporary employment rate in Australia reached 5,3% in 2019.

15. 4,093,500 people were employed in NSW in April 2021.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

According to the Australian workforce statistics, NSW had the biggest number of workers in Australia for the reference period of April 2021. Next up are Victoria and Queensland with 3,446,500 and 2,614,600 employed people accordingly.

The West and the South are also both high employment areas in Australia, with 1,391,800 employed Western Australians and 864,200 people working in South Australia.

Tasmania and the Northern Territory have the least employed people. There were only 258,200 Tasmanians and 130,800 Northerners working in April 2021.

16. 66,7% of the people in the workforce in Australia in April 2021 were male.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics) (Workplace Gender Equality Agency)

The Statistics Bureau‘s employment-to-population statistics show that 58,8% of the Australian workforce consists of women. 

Furthermore, the Australian Government sources report that 37,9% of the total full-time and 67,2% of all part-time employees are female. 

17. 74,4% of the working-age population in Australia were employed in the first quarter of 2021. 


As shown by the Australian workforce age statistics, a minor decrease of 0,2% is obvious in the employment rate of people aged 15-64 since the first quarter of 2020 when it was 74,6%. 

59,7% of people aged 15-24 who are fresh on the labour market are employed so far in 2021. 

The highest employment rate of 81.6% belongs to the people at the height of their careers aged 25-54. The people aged 55-64 who are slowly reaching the end of their careers have an employment rate of 64,6%.

18. 68% of Australians aged 20-64 had post-school qualifications in 2019.

(National Skills Commission) (OECD)

61,9% of 25-64-year-olds with below upper secondary education were employed in 2019. The people in the same age group with upper secondary education saw a higher employment rate in 2019, as 79% of them were employed. Finally, 84,6% of people with tertiary education aged 25 to 64 were working the same year.

19. 55% of the accommodation and food industry workers didn’t have a post-school qualification in 2018.


Similar to the retail trade industry with 53% of workers with no post-school qualifications, the accommodation and food industry have the highest share of these employees. 

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are also among the industries with higher portions of people working without qualifications (48%), followed by transport, postal, and warehousing industries with 49%.

The areas of education and training have the least employed people without a post-school qualification with only 13%.

20. The participation rate dropped by 0,3% in April 2021.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

April 2021’s employment report shows that the participation rate in Australia decreased to reach 66%. However, the rate has slightly increased by 2,4% since last April and 0,1% since last March.

The male participation was 70,8%, while the female participation reached 61,3% during this period.

21. The employment status improved for 65,8% of VET graduates in 2019. 

(National Skills Commission)

The education fields whose employment status improved the most are architecture and building with an astounding 76,9% of VET graduates with an enhanced status in 2019. Education follows closely with 74%. 

Interestingly, the area of information technology saw the least improvement with only 38,4% of graduates moving forward in employment. 

22. 72,2% of bachelor degree graduates were employed four months after graduating in 2019.

(National Skills Commission)

An astonishing 95,7% of pharmacy students started working part-time fresh out of school in 2019, while 1,8% got themselves a full-time job. A lot of the rehabilitation and dentistry graduates also took part-time opportunities with 92,4% of rehabilitation students and 86,2% working part-time shortly after finishing.

23. The monthly hours worked have increased 1,8% since March 2020.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

The Australian Bureau of Statistics employment data shows a decrease of 13 million hours since March 2021 when the total hours worked amounted to 1,806,000. However, the number grew by 12,5% over the year, becoming bigger than the surge of 5,1% in employed people. 

24. 3,461,900 people worked fewer or no hours in April 2021.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

In April 2018, the number of people who worked fewer or no hours due to annual leaves, holidays, flextime, or long service leave reached 3,419,400, similar to April this year.

According to ABS jobs data, 363,400 people worked fewer or no hours out of economic reasons, while 507,600 had other reasons to do so. Most of the people report other reasons around Easter.

25. Over 1,134,000 employed people worked zero hours.  

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

The number of people working zero hours due to annual leaves, holidays, flextime or long service leave in April 2021 is pretty higher than April 2018 when it was 815,400.

Expectedly, the amount of people working zero hours because there was no work or not enough work available, or were stood down reached its peak in April 2020 with 766,800 people.

59,800 employed people were working zero hours for economic reasons, significantly less than the 767,000 recorded in April 2020.

26. The job vacancies in February 2021 increased by 13,7%.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

There were a total of 288,700 job vacancies in Australia in February 2021. 260,300 of them were vacancies in the private sector and have increased 14% since November 2020. On the other hand, the public sector vacancies increased by 11,1% and reached a total of 28,400.

Australian Labour Market

27. The healthcare and social assistance industry accounted for 14% of Aussie workers.

(National Skills Commission)

The Australian workforce demographics show that 78% of the most crucial industry’s employees were women in August 2020. The top 3 employing occupations were registered nurses, aged and disabled carers, and child carers.

Moreover, 46% of the employees in this industry had a bachelor’s degree or higher, whereas 18% did not have any post-school qualifications.

The annual employment growth in August 2020 reached 1,7%, which is a considerable decrease of 3,6% since August 2019.

28. 10% of workers in Australia were employed in the retail trade industry in August 2020.

(National Skills Commission)

The Australian employment statistics by industry show that 31% of the younger population from 15-24 years were working in the retail trade. 

Expectedly, most of the retail workers don’t have post-school qualifications, and only 18% have a bachelor’s degree.

Occupations with most opportunities for employment include general sales assistants, retail managers, as well as checkout operators and office cashiers. 

29. 9% of employed people in Australia work in the construction industry.

(National Skills Commission)

Carpenters and joiners, electricians and construction managers were the top employment occupations in this industry in August 2020.

Half of the construction workers held a certificate of higher education, 35% don’t have a post-school qualification.

The job statistics in Australia reveal that 37% of workers in the construction industry are self-employed, and 15% are aged 15-24 years.

30. 64% of the education and training industries had a bachelor’s degree.

(National Skills Commission)

9% of people employed in Australia worked in the areas of education and training in August 2020. Curiously, 11% of them did not have post-school qualifications.

71% of the education labour force consists of women. 9% of the people pursuing a career in education are relatively young and aged 15-24 years.

31. About 40% of agribusiness employees were 55 years of age in August 2020. 

(National Skills Commission)

People in agribusiness mainly work in the areas of agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Most of them are self-employed. That makes 56% of people who maintain their own properties or farms. Livestock and crop farmers were the top occupations in August 2021.

Should you want a seasonal job or a short-term job opportunity, you can consider looking for a job in the agriculture industries no matter your age.

32. 27% of managers did not hold post-school qualifications.

(National Skills Commission)

A bigger portion of Australians work as managers in various industries and organisations across the country.

The majority of managers have a bachelor’s or a higher degree with 38% of the employed people. A degree or experience in the management field is definitely a plus, as managers take on all kinds of responsibilities. This is supported by the fact that only 4% of employed managers are of ages 15-24 and a half are above 45 years old.

33. One in four employees in Australia worked as a Professional in August 2020.

(National Skills Commission)

As the largest employment group, there are observable differences in terms of male and female employment rates in Australia in the Professional industry. For example, most of the ICT Professionals are men with 79%. Some industries are female-dominated, such as Health and Education with 74% and 72% of women working as professionals respectively.

Only 7% of the younger people aged 15-24 are Professionals since a certain degree or qualification is necessary for employment.

34. 73% of the clerical and administrative workers are women.

(National Skills Commission)

The top occupations in this area include general clerks, receptionists and accounting clerks. People who are clerical and administrative workers mainly work in an office and take care of organising and manipulating information.

37% of workers don’t have post-school qualifications, meaning this occupation offers good job opportunities for people who haven’t continued their education.

35. 70% of jobs in NSW are in Sydney.

(National Skills Commission)

New South Wales is the biggest employing state in the country with 70% of its workers owning post-school qualifications. 

The Healthcare and Social industries are currently the top employing industries in the state.

36. 49% of the workforce in ACT is female.

(National Skills Commission)

Intriguingly, most of the people in the Australian Capital Territory primarily work in the area of Public Administration and Safety, contrary to other states. This industry does not only offer desk jobs, but also a wider variety of careers in communication, or even graphic design.

ACT’s workforce furthermore takes the crown as the most highly educated in Australia, with 45% of workers having a bachelor degree or higher education.

37. 55% of job openings are advertised on the Internet.

(National Skills Commission)

It is only natural that employers would use the Internet as the main place to look for workers in the digital age. The world wide web offers different options for advertising, so employers can use their own company’s website or recruitment websites.

38. 14% of job vacancies are posted on social media.

(National Skills Commission)

Given how widespread social media is nowadays, a lot of jobs are advertised through various channels. Check for some vacancies in between all the memes on Instagram or Facebook, but don’t forget to make your profiles presentable for your future employer.

 39. 8% of job advertisements are put up in newspapers.

(National Skills Commission)

Though it might seem outdated, the Australian recruitment industry statistics say that some employers’ adverts can still be found in newspapers. Look out for job vacancies in the good old newspaper, should you happen to live in a regional area.

40. 33% of jobs are recommended by spoken word. 

(National Skills Commission)

You must have been in a situation where a friend or a family member has told you about a new job opening in your area. It would be a good idea to check in with your old co-workers to see if they know about any work opportunities.

Employment and Earnings

41. 2,041,200 people were working in the public sector at the end of June 2020.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

The majority of Australian workforce in the public sector were employed in the state government and also made $138,175,300, making the largest income out of all public sector occupations.

ABS’ employment figures in Australia show that 246,000 employees worked for the Commonwealth government while making $22,414,300 for the financial year of 2019-2020.

186,000 people working for the Australian government worked for their local government. Their salary reached $13,550,000 from 2019 to 2020.

42. The Education and Training industry makes $684,700 more than Healthcare.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

People working in Public administration and safety had the highest wages for the period of 2019 to 2020 with $56,520,300.

Health and Education, as the two most important industries, had some of the highest cash earnings. Education workers made a staggering $47,904,700 in 2019-2020, which is $2,455,500 more than the previous financial year.

Rental, hiring and real estate services were paid the lowest, making $461,000 in 2019 and 2020.

43. The median weekly income for all workers was $1,150 in August 2020.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

The weekly cash earnings of both women and men working full-time increased since August 2019. In 2020, the male full-time workforce made an average of $1,500 weekly, while women made $1,342. 

Intriguingly, the average weekly salary for men working part-time stalled at $500 since August 2019, but women’s wages went up by $129.

44. Postgraduate coursework graduates earned a starting salary of $85,300.

(National Skills Commission)

In 2019, the median salary for postgraduate research graduates was $90,000.

The highest paid areas of study were dentistry($88,200), medicine($73,100), and teacher education($68,000).

Covid-19 Impact

45. The unemployment rate went up by 1,8% from March to May 2020 in Australia.

(Statista) (National Skills Commission)

Covid-19 is undoubtedly one of the main causes of unemployment in Australia, with the country surviving a sharp reduction in the Australian working population by 871,600 between March and May 2020. 

During this period, full-time employment decreased by 3,8%, while there were 533,700 less people working part-time. 

However, following the slow and steady ease of restrictions, Australia’s labor force has began a speedy recovery with an increase of 5,3% since May. 

46. 213,000 people of ages 15-24 were left jobless in April 2020.

(Centre for Social Impact)

Out of 600,000 people of the working population in Australia who lost their jobs, 35% were younger people aged 15 to 24. A striking drop to 54% in the employment-to-population ratio was noticed last year in April. 

The rise from 11,5% to 13,8% in the youth unemployment rate was also predictable given the circumstances. However, JobSeeker made sure this rate doesn’t go even higher by providing complementary payments to younger jobless people.

47. 1,640,000 unemployed people were receiving support payments in May 2020. 

(Parliament of Australia) (Australian Government)

Since December 2019, the number of unemployed people receiving supplementary payments has doubled by 820,000. 

The Australian economy made serious efforts to help its citizens out during the pandemic. In order to help more people caring for or affected by Covid-19, the  JobSeeker rate for the Coronavirus Supplement was $150 until 31 March 2021. 

Australian Labour Market Trends

48. The unemployment rates in Australia are expected to be 4,78% in 2025 and 2026.

(Statista) (Labour Market Information Portal)

According to Statista’s predictions for unemployment trends in Australia, the unemployment rates would luckily suffer a substantial drop from 2021 onwards.

Subsequently, projections for future employment trends are looking brighter. The Australian Government’s predictions anticipate increase in employment in 17 out of the 19 largest industries over the next 4 years.

The Healthcare industry is expected to see the largest employment growth with 249,500 employed people, while the Education will have the lowest growth rate with an increase of 118,600 people.

Before you get back to work

Whether you have secured your dream job or struggling to find your way in the career world, we can all agree that the pressure is equally exhausting, as each job comes with its own responsibilities and challenges. It is no lie that having a job nowadays can be considered a privilege with thousands of people being left without a source of income. Thankfully, our unemployment statistics have informed you about the current situation on and off the job market, and you can use our insight to your advantage during your next job search.


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