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Australia’s real unemployment is up to 10.2% in August

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 547,424 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 – August 2017 and includes 3,709 face-to-face interviews in August 2017.
In August 1.324 million Australians were unemployed (10.2% of the workforce). This is similar to a year ago (down 8,000, or 0.2%). However more Australians are now under-employed than this time last year. 1.241 million (9.5%) Australians are under-employed (looking for work or looking for more work), up a significant 324,000 (2.4%) in a year.

  • 2.565 million (19.7%) Australians were unemployed or under-employed in August – the 23rd straight month more than 2 million Australians were looking for work or looking for more work;

  • 11,685,000 Australians were employed in August – an increase of 162,000 over the past year (this represents an average of 13,500 jobs added per month);

  • The increase in employment over the past year was driven by a large jump in part-time employment which rose 535,000 to 4,247,000 more than offsetting a decrease in full-time employment which fell 373,000 to 7,438,000 – and now at its lowest for the year;

  • Roy Morgan real unemployment figures of 10.2% are substantially higher than the current ABS estimate for July 2017 (5.6%).
Roy Morgan Monthly Unemployment & Under-employment - August 2017 - 19.7%Source: Roy Morgan Single Source October 2005 – August 2017. Average monthly interviews 4,000.

Gary Morgan, Executive Chairman, Roy Morgan Research, says Australian employment is growing but it’s entirely down to an increase in part-time jobs:

“The Australian economy has generated new jobs over the past year with a net 162,000 new jobs created since August 2016 – however the large increase in part-time jobs (up 535,000 or about 45,000 per month) obscures the loss of full-time jobs (down 373,000, just over 30,000 per month).

“The latest Roy Morgan unemployment estimate of 10.2% is the highest its been since last August but unemployment is typically high in August. What is different this year is the higher number of Australians who are under-employed.

“Although the trends over the past year have been mixed, analysing longer-term employment trends in Australia shows that over the past 17 years the proportion of working age Australians employed has increased to 59.6% in 2017 (up from 54.7% in 2000) and both full-time and part-time employment have increased as a proportion of the population over the last 17 years.

“The long-term trends of the Australian workforce show consistent growth across all components of the workforce – overall employment is up, full-time employment is up, part-time employment is up and unfortunately both unemployment and under-employment are up as well. These long-term trends are covered fully in the recent Roy Morgan release – ‘It’s Official: Australia is ‘on the move’ employment-wise’.


This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 547,424 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 – August 2017 and includes 3,709 face-to-face interviews in August 2017.

*The ‘under-employed’ are those people who are in part-time work or consultants who are looking for more work. (Unfortunately the ABS does not release this figure in their monthly unemployment survey results).

For further information




Gary Morgan:

+61 3 9224 5213

+61 411 129 094

Michele Levine:

+61 3 9224 5215

+61 411 129 093

Unemployment Data Tables

Roy Morgan Research Employment Estimates (2001-2017)

Roy Morgan Research Unemployment & Under-employment Estimates (2007-2017)

Roy Morgan Research vs ABS Employment Estimates (1992-2017)

ABS Employment Estimates (1992-2017)

Roy Morgan Monthly Unemployment - August 2017 - 10.2%

Roy Morgan Quarterly Unemployment - June Quarter 2017 - 9.3%



The Roy Morgan Unemployment estimate is obtained by surveying an Australia-wide cross section by face-to-face interviews. A person is classified as unemployed if they are looking for work, no matter when.

The results are not seasonally adjusted and provide an accurate measure of monthly unemployment estimates in Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Unemployment estimates are obtained by mostly telephone interviews. Households selected for the ABS Survey are interviewed each month for eight months, with one-eighth of the sample being replaced each month. The first interview is conducted face-to-face. Subsequent interviews are then conducted by telephone.

The ABS classifies a person as unemployed if, when surveyed, they have been actively looking for work in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week and if they were available for work in the reference week.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Unemployment estimates are also seasonally adjusted.

For these reasons the Australian Bureau of Statistics Unemployment estimates are different from the Roy Morgan Unemployment estimate. Gary Morgan's concerns regarding the ABS Unemployment estimate is clearly outlined in his letter to the Australian Financial Review, which was not published.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. The following table gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. The figures are approximate and for general guidance only, and assume a simple random sample. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

% Estimate



25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%