Roy Morgan unemployment eases

The Roy Morgan February unemployment number is out and has corrected somewhat, not unexpected for February:

  • Unemployment was 9.7% (down 0.6% since January 2012) — an estimated 1,182,000 Australians were unemployed and looking for work.
  • A further 7.9% (up 0.4%) of the workforce* were working part-time looking for more work (underemployed) — 962,000 Australians.
  • In total 17.5% (down 0.3%) of the workforce, or 2.14 million Australians, were unemployed or underemployed.
  • The Australian workforce* in February was at 12,228,000, (down from a record high of 12,429,000 in January, 2012 but up 531,000 since February 2011) — comprising 8,000,000 full-time workers (up 8,000 since February 2011); 4,228,000 part-time workers (up 523,000 since February 2011) and 1,182,000 looking for work (up 255,000 since February 2011).
  • The latest Roy Morgan unemployment estimate of 9.7% is now 4.6% above the 5.1% currently quoted by the ABS for January 2012.

“In February unemployment has fallen 0.6% to 9.7% (1,182,000, down 96,000 from January). The fall in unemployment in February was not unexpected as unemployment has now fallen in 16/20 years since 1993. However, despite the fall, this is the highest number of February unemployed ever estimated by Roy Morgan and the highest rate of February unemployment in over a decade since February 2001 (10.4%).

“Additionally, a further 962,000 (7.9%) Australians are underemployed — up 28,000 from January. This means a total of 2.14 million Australians (17.5%) are either unemployed or underemployed — the third straight month that more than 2 million Australians have been looking for work or looking for more work.

“Unemployment traditionally drops in February as Australians return from their holidays and school leavers and University graduates return to study or take up positions in the workforce. Illustrating this trend is the drop in unemployment amongst the youngest age groups: 18-24yr old unemployment (18.1%, down 5.9%) and 14-17yr olds (7.4%, down 2.1%) both dropped significantly in February in contrast to 25-34yr olds (10.5%, up 1.6%).

I’ve also attached an image below of the last four years of raw data. If you look, you’ll see that this correction is larger than the last tow years in February so there is no evidence that the January spike is unwinding at a noteworthy pace:

The mystery of the gulf between this measure and the ABS (released next week) continues…


  1. somewhat different comment to your last post on the Roy Morgan data. Perhaps the ABS data is more statistically reliable.

    • I concluded in the last post that the result was within the kind of scenario outlined by Bill Evans of a mid year unemployment rate of 6%. That still looks plausible on this result though as I said when ABs results came out, I am ratcheting down my projections a bit. Not so different.

      As for credibility of the data, look at the history of the two sets – very high correlation in trend terms. It was quite reasonable to expect the two to track one another again.

      If they don’t it will be the first time but who knows given the unprecedented adjustment we’re in it’s possible RM’s methodology has a bias that means it isn’t picking up the new jobs in the boom sectors.

      We shall see.

      • it’s possible RM’s methodology has a bias that means it isn’t picking up the new jobs in the boom sectors.

        Hard to do face-to-face interviews in the Pilbara?

        Even if its the case that Morgan isn’t picking the jobs growth in mining, its probably reflecting the weak state of the employment market in the rest of Australia. You know, where 95% of us live, work and vote.

        • It should still pick up WA. But if it’s weighted more heavily to the east then perhaps there’s distortion. Then again, there’s no spike in ABS numbers out east either…

  2. Given the runoff in BER work and insulation rectification, falling value of building approvals (12 month YOY) for over a year and reduction in some retail spending areas I am not surprised at the increase in un (and under)employment, but still a little surprised at the magnitude of the total increase over the last 12 months.

  3. jereme johnson

    So the past couple of years the unemployment has always come off the Jan numbers for the Roy data. Can the Aussie labor market really fight its way down another 3.5% to converge with the ‘trusted’ data? Doubt it.

    Love the MacroB blog guys. Keep it up – now a daily visitor.