Though the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 4.0% in March, unemployment did fall slightly according to new ABS figures.

The underemployment rate decreased to 6.3% from 6.6% in February.

The participation rate remained at 66.4% in March, in rounded terms, which is the same record-high seen in February.

Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said employment increased by 18,000 people and unemployment fell by 12,000 in March 2022.

"4.0% is the lowest the unemployment rate has been in the monthly survey," Mr Jarvis said.

"Lower rates were seen in the series before November 1974, when the survey was quarterly."

Mr Jarvis also said unemployment continued to fall faster for women than for men.

"The unemployment rate for women fell from 3.8% to 3.7%, the lowest it has been since May 1974," he said.

"It remained at 4.2% for men, its second lowest level since November 2008 and just above the rate from December 2021 of 4.1%."

Job ads were also the highest on record - with fewer applicants per ad - in March according to Seek.

Youth employment highest since 2008

The employment rate increased for the fifth month in a row in March, up by 0.1% or 18,000 people.

Employment is now sitting 220,000 people (1.7%) higher than the pre-Delta high of June 2021.

This is particularly evident with young people between 15 and 24 years old, with employment among this group increasing by 36,000 people in March 2022.

"While young people were particularly impacted early in the pandemic and during the Delta period, we have continued to see strong increases in youth employment over the past year," Mr Jarvis said.

"The youth employment-to-population ratio in March was the highest it had been since August 2008, at 64.8%, and 4.6 percentage points higher than the start of the pandemic."

Though employment is up, hours worked decreased by 0.6%, which can be attributed to floods in NSW and Queensland.

"This was in addition to the high number of people away from work due to illness, reflecting further disruption from the Omicron variant,” Mr Jarvis said.

“The fall in hours in March follows falls in payroll jobs and wages over the same period. Like hours, that data can show larger short-term changes than for employment, because employees may be away from paid work for a short period without losing their job.” 

Underemployment, underutilisation lowest since 2008

The underemployment rate fell to 6.3% - which is 8.8% lower than March 2020 levels - and is now the lowest since November 2008.

The utilisation rate, which combined unemployment and underemployment, dropped to 10.3% - the lowest level since September 2008.

Utilisation is also 14.1% lower than it was in March 2020.

Image by Jason Goodman on Unsplash