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77,000 jobs added as unemployment falls to lowest level in 13 years

Jobs: People walk on a city street in Australia wearing masks and a map of Australia.
77,000 jobs were added in February with the unemployment rate dropping to its lowest level since 2008. (Source: AAP/Getty)

The unemployment rate fell to 4 per cent in February 2022, the lowest it’s been since August 2008, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

“With employment increasing by 77,000 people and unemployment falling by 19,000, the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points, to 4 per cent,” Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said.

“This is the lowest unemployment rate since August 2008 and only the third time in the history of the monthly survey when unemployment was as low as 4 per cent.

The only other time the unemployment rate has been at 4 per cent was in February and August 2008.

Lower unemployment rates occurred in the series before November 1974, when the survey was quarterly.

"The 3.8 per cent unemployment rate for women was the lowest since May 1974,” Jarvis said.

“Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for men fell to 4.2 per cent, its second-lowest level since November 2008 and just above the rate from December 2021 of 4.1 per cent."

Slow wages growth

In his most recent statement on monetary policy, RBA governor Philip Lowe said the bank had been anticipating wages would rise.

“Wages growth has picked up but, at the aggregate level, is only around the relatively low rates prevailing before the pandemic,” Lowe said.

“A further pick-up in wages growth and broader measures of labour costs is expected as the labour market tightens.

“This pick-up is still expected to be only gradual, although there is uncertainty about the behaviour of labour costs at historically low levels of unemployment.”

Australia is currently experiencing a worker shortage, with job ads at historically high levels and the unemployment rate declining.

This has seen some businesses offering major perks - financial and other - to entice and retain workers.

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