Australia jobless rate drops to 6.4%; hours worked falls sharply due to leave

By Sophia Rodrigues

Published On 18 Feb 2021 , 12:08 PM

Australia's unemployment rate fell to 6.4% in January from 6.6% as the number of employed rose 29,100 while the number of unemployed fell 34,300, data from ABS showed. The participation fell to 66.1% from 66.2%, indicating there was a net flow from the unemployed to employed. 

The highlight of the data was a big fall in monthly hours worked which the ABS has attributed to larger-than-usual number of people taking leave during the holiday season (otherwise it is unusual to see such a large drop in hours worked (4.9%) when there is a net rise in full-time employment).

As a result, average hours worked per person dropped to the lowest on record 128.8 hours in January, compared to the previous low of 129.8 hours in April 2020 at the height of the pandemic. The month of February is likely to see a big reversal in hours worked.

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