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61,000 jobs added in May as wages are boosted

Jobs: Construction workers. and pedestrians crossing a busy street.
61,000 jobs were added in May. (Source: Getty)

Australia’s unemployment rate has remained steady at 3.9 per cent, despite 61,000 jobs being added in May.

Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 61,000 people (0.5 per cent) last month, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

“The 61,000 increase in the number of employed people in May followed a smaller increase of 4,000 people in April, which coincided with Easter, school holidays, impacts from floods and ongoing disruptions associated with the Omicron variant,” Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said.

The number of hours worked has also increased by 0.9 per cent in May, following a 1.3 per cent increase in April.

“In addition to the continuing trend of increasing employment, we have continued to see relatively stronger growth in hours worked,” Jarvis said.

“This is something we also saw this time last year, before the Delta outbreak.”

Wages boosted

The low unemployment rate comes a day after the Fair Work Commission (FWC) boosted the minimum wage by 5.2 per cent to keep up with the rising cost of living.

Businesses have been struggling to fill vacancies since borders closed in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some taking to offering major incentives to attract workers.

The 5.2 per cent increase - the highest in 16 years - takes the minimum wage to $812.60 per week, or $21.38 per hour.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said low-paid workers deserved a real wage increase in light of rising inflation.

"When you take into account the economic impact of this decision, it is the correct one," Albanese told ABC Radio this morning.

"[The commission] agreed, effectively, with the government submission, that the lowest-paid workers - who were on just $20.33 an hour [and] will now have that increase by just $1.05 an hour - didn't deserve a real wage cut."

But, while the wages boost was welcomed by unions and workers, some industry groups slammed the decision, saying it would impact small businesses' bottom lines.

Australian Industry Group CEO Innes Willox said the rise would fuel inflation.

"This wage increase will put a lot of pressure on business because they're already under pressure with energy cost increases, interest rate rises and concerns around their own inflation," Willox said on ABC TV.

"It's very much an issue for many employers, particularly smaller ones, who are telling us that they will struggle to pay this and they'll have to make decisions around future employment."

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