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Employment Returning To Pre-Pandemic Rates As JobKeeper Ends

Unemployment has dropped as JobKeeper winds up, with hours worked returning to pre-COVID levels.

The national jobless rate is down from 5.8 per cent last month to 5.6 per cent, according to newly-released ABS figures, though these do not factor in the impact of the end of JobKeeper this month. Hours worked in March 2021 also increased above March 2020 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, and the participation rate hit a record high of 66.3 per cent.

According to Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, this new data is a positive sign for the economic recovery from COVID.

“Employment and hours worked in March 2021 were both higher than March 2020, up by 0.6 per cent and 1.2 per cent. In March 2021, 62.6 per cent of people over 15 were employed, which was higher than March 2020 (62.4 per cent).

“The proportion of women employed was the highest it’s ever been (58.5 per cent), half a percentage point higher than in March 2020, while the proportion of men employed remained slightly lower than before the pandemic (66.8 per cent, compared with 67.0 per cent in March 2020),” he said.

The final JobKeeper payments will be processed this month, and many businesses – including consumer electronics giant Harvey Norman and retail firm Premier Investments – have been slammed for pocketing the payments and refusing to reimburse taxpayers despite making gangbuster profits.

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