In February 2021, Australia’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.3 percent down to 5.8 percent. This fall illustrates that Australia’s labour market is improving from the covid-19 pandemic a lot quicker than what most people anticipated.

Over the past month an extra 88,700 people have found new jobs. This means that for the first time over 11 months more than 13 million Australians have been employed.

In the past month, full-time employment increased by 89,000 people. 69,000 of these new employees are women.

Full-time employment for women is currently 1.8 percent higher than what it was in March 2020. In comparison, male full-time employment is 0.8 percent below what it was this time last year.

The total number of Australia’s employed is currently just 1,800 below the number of Australia’s who were employed prior to the covid-19 pandemic.

Full-time jobs in February overall increased by 89,100, but part-time jobs dropped by 500 positions. 

When gathering statistics, the ABS registers employment as individuals who are in a paid job for one hour or more in a week  

What are they counting as employment in the employment figures? About 100 of my colleagues are still only working 3 days per week and facing redundancy at the end of March

The underemployment rate which refers to Australians with jobs who would like more hours increased from 8.1 percent to 8.5 percent. 

The next huge test for Australia’s labour market will be the conclusion of the JobKeeper program which ends of 28th March 2021. The JobKeeper payment was originally introduced in March 2020 at the start of the covid-19 pandemic to encourage affected businesses to keep staff employed during the nationwide lockdown.    

JobKeeper is a wage subsidy payment made via the tax system. On top of keeping Australians employed, the scheme also aims to stimulate Australia’s economy and to benefit the sectors who were worst hit by the pandemic. In addition to employees, self-employed people and sole traders were included in those receiving the payment.

Since September 2020, over half a million businesses across the country have graduated from the scheme. Despite the schemes success at helping businesses survive during the pandemic there are a number of businesses struggling in industries such as aviation, tourism and the arts and recreation services.

Unemployed Australians will receive an additional $25 a week after changes to the JobSeeker base rate passed through Parliament on Thursday 18th March. The changes come into effect on 1st April

The deadline to adjust the benefit has been fast approaching, with the coronavirus supplement a boost to the payment of $150 a fortnight set to conclude at the end of March.

Another change coming into effect relates to how much a JobSeeker can earn before it starts to effect their payment. Previously, you could only earn $100 per fortnight before it started to change your payment. It has slightly gone up to $150.

There is also a change made to “mutual obligations”. This means that JobSeekers will be required attend face to face appointments with a job service provider. This essential prior to the covid-19 pandemic and is now once again compulsory.

From 1st April. people on who are on the payments will be required to apply for at minimum of 15 jobs a month, which is a rise from 8. In July 2021, the number of jobs required to apply for will increase to 20 per months.

Individuals who have been on been on a payment for the past six months will also have to enter an “intensive training stage” to boost skills or gain work experience in a specific field.

The government will also be temporarily expanding the eligibility criteria for JobSeeker and Youth Allowance to include anyone who has to self-isolate or care for others because of Covid-19. This eligibility criteria will be in place until the end of June 2021.