Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 210,800 people between May and June, and the unemployment rate rose from 7.1 per cent to 7.4 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said in a media release: ‘The easing of COVID-19 restrictions in June saw an extra 280,000 people in the labour force, with more people in employment, and more actively looking and available for work.’

The 210,800 increase in employment was underpinned by a large increase in part-time employment (249,000 people) and a further decrease in full-time employment (38,100 people). Overall, the percentage of people employed in Australia increased 1.0 percentage point to 59.2 per cent, up from a low of 58.2 per cent in May.

‘In June, around 24 per cent of the fall in employment through to May had been regained,’ Mr Jarvis said.

Hours worked rose 4.0 per cent in June but remained 6.8 per cent lower than March. Hours worked increased more for females (5.0 per cent) than males (3.3 per cent) over the month. Hours worked for females were still around 7.3 per cent below March, compared to 6.5 per cent for males.

Unemployment increased by 69,300 people to 992,300. Around 70 per cent of newly unemployed people in June were not in the labour force in May.

The underemployment rate decreased by 1.4 percentage points, to 11.7 per cent, but remained 2.9 percentage points above March.

The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, fell 1.0 percentage point, to 19.1 per cent.

The Labour Force release includes additional analysis of hours worked, including for those working zero hours, and for flows out of employment, including those who left the labour force. It also includes comparisons with US and Canadian data for June 2020.

JobTrainer program

Meanwhile, the Australian Government announced a new program, JobTrainer, designed to help Australians access to new skills by retraining and upskilling them into sectors with job opportunities.

The program includes an additional 340,700 training places, which will help school leavers and job seekers access short and long courses to develop new skills in growth sectors and create a pathway to more qualifications.

Courses will be free or low cost in areas of identified need, with the Federal Government providing $500 million with matched contributions from state and territory governments.

The program also includes an additional $1.5 billion to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices in work. It builds on the initial $1.3 billion package announced in March.

In addition to small businesses already covered, the wage subsidy will now be available to medium businesses with less than 200 employees for apprentices employed as at 1 July 2020. Around 180,000 apprentices and 90,000 small and medium businesses that employ them will now be supported, with the program extended by six months to March 2021.

The initiative covers 50 per cent of the wages paid to apprentices and trainees, up to $7,000 per quarter.

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