Australia’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4.9%, marking the first time it has dropped below 5% since 2011.
The unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage points in February, on seasonally adjusted terms, to reach its eight-year low of 4.9%. An 11,900 spike in part-time jobs drove the improvement, with the number of people in full-time work falling by 7,300 in the month.
Jobs Minister Kelly O’Dwyer says the latest ABS data shows the jobs market is in great health. “It is, I think, tremendous that the unemployment rate now has a four in front of it, rather than a five,” she says.
But Labor leader Bill Shorten says there is more to the story than the headline figures, with many people in short-term and casual positions and struggling to cope with slow wages growth. “We’ve got a lot of Australians who are working two jobs just to make ends meet,” he says.
Asked whether she is concerned about the trend, O’Dwyer pointed to the bigger picture, noting the majority of the 280,000 new positions created in the past 12 months have been full-time.