We have never had as many people at work in this country than right now

Today’s jobs figures show the consistent underlying strength of the Australian economy – we have never had as many people at work in this country than right now.

There has been an extraordinary increase of nearly 370,000 Australians finding employment in just one month.

This massive uplift in employment has predominantly occurred in New South Wales and Victoria as these states reopen from their lockdowns with a bang just in time for Christmas. However, the strength in the labour market can be felt across the whole nation, with nearly every state and territory recording an unemployment rate less than 5 percent (with the exception of Tasmania, who just misses out joining this club with an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent).

Of note is Western Australia, which has recorded the lowest unemployment rate in the country – just 3.8 percent. Clearly, while the local economy is booming and it hasn’t been anywhere nearly as directly impacted by COVID-19 as the rest of the country, the extraordinarily low unemployment rate is also a domestic example on how border closures closure effect labour markets. Simply, WA has been unable to freely import workers from the eastern states (or internationally), and so has had to predominantly rely on the local population to meet labour demand.

In effect the WA labour market represents a microcosm of Australia, where over the pandemic the practical closure of our international borders to foreign workers has meant we’ve had to rely more than usually on our local labour supply, which is a key factor driving our unemployment rate down to these exceptionally low levels.

The rising participation rates also show the greater confidence in the economy – people only re-enter the market when they believe they are likely to get a job.”

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