Unemployment Rate sees slight rise amidst strained labour market

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By Published On: September 16, 20220 Comments

Australia’s unemployment rate has seen a slight rise, according to new data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with participation rates also increasing to now sit only 0.2 percentage points below the record levels seen in June.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Australia has increased to 3.5, according to the ABS, rising 0.1 percentage points to match the rate seen in June of this year. 

The rise comes as a surprise to many economic experts, with a number of economists now predicting that the Reserve Bank could reconsider slowing interest rate rises amidst concerns that the Australian labour market has reached its full capacity.

“Another sign that the labour market has lost momentum is hours worked,” Economist for Capital Economics Marcel Thieliant said as reported by the Australian Financial Review, “Which remains below their peak in March despite a 0.8 per cent increase last month.”

Overall, the number of unemployed Australians rose in August by 14,000 according to the ABS, though the numbers remain 21 percent lower than one year previous.

The concerns about the labour market’s constraints in light of the development will be front of mind for businesses of all kinds, particularly in retail, with the demands for labour expected to continue to exceed the rates of labour supply. Job vacancy numbers have continued to rise since initially reaching record highs in late 2020, sitting at 3.4 percent in the ABS’ most recent data for the month of May, with many expecting the rise to continue when the next data for August is released at the end of this month.

For Australian businesses already grappling with skills and labour shortages, there’s little suggestion of the problems easing in the months to come.

But for Jennie Rogerson, head of people for digital design platform Canva, one answer to potentially mitigating the problems of skill shortages for businesses and employers is a redesign of recruitment strategising. Speaking to SmartCompany, Rogerson suggests businesses and employers in any industry could stand to make adjustments to their hiring practices as a means to address the pressures.

“I think, especially when you’re hiring, you can really get stuck in a mindset of going for the same kind of person, the same background, the same skills,” Rogerson says, suggesting abandoning stringent role requirements such as university degrees or even minimum levels of specific experience could be one way to better enable employers to identify candidates who are no less suitable fits for vacant job roles.

“People without university degrees do amazing things all of the time. There shouldn’t be those kinds of barriers for entry. And reducing that… it’s something that we’ve actually seen enormous growth because of that, not in spite of it.”

Such agile consideration in seeking to fill vacant roles, Rogerson further suggests to SmartCompany, can also see positive contributions to a workplace’s overall culture as a direct result.

“Diversity of backgrounds, ideas, perspectives, life experiences,” Rogerson says, “That’s what actually makes a really strong culture.”

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Heather Bone