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Australia’s real unemployment is 9.4% in July; down 1.1% from a year ago

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 543,715 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 – July 2017 and includes 4,754 face-to-face interviews in July 2017.
In July 1.236 million Australians were unemployed (9.4% of the workforce). This is down 129,000 (1.1%) from a year ago. An additional 1.226 million (9.4%) Australians under-employed (looking for work or looking for more work), up 55,000 (0.4%).

  • A total of 2.462 million (18.8%) Australians were unemployed or under-employed in July – the 22nd straight month more than 2 million Australians were looking for work or looking for more work;

  • 11,854,000 Australians were employed in July – a substantial increase of 212,000 over the past year (just under 20,000 jobs added per month);

  • The increase in employment was driven by a large jump in part-time employment which rose 196,000 to 4,155,000 and a small increase in full-time employment which rose 16,000 to 7,699,000;

  • The Roy Morgan real unemployment figures are substantially higher than the current ABS estimate for June 2017 (5.6%).

Roy Morgan Monthly Unemployment & Under-employment - July 2017 - 18.8%

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source October 2005 – July 2017. Average monthly interviews 4,000.

Gary Morgan, Executive Chairman, Roy Morgan Research, says Australian employment has grown significantly over the past year but most new jobs have been part-time:

“The Australian economy has been generating new jobs over the past year with 212,000 new jobs keeping the economy ticking over despite a rare quarter of negative growth in the September quarter 2016 (-0.5%).

“However, although new jobs are being created, they are primarily part-time in nature with around 90% of new jobs (196,000) part-time positions compared to only 16,000 full-time jobs. This increasing casualisation of the Australian workforce now sees 35.1% of working Australians employed part-time – up from 34% a year ago.

“The growing share of the workforce in part-time employment leads directly to Australia’s largely ignored problem of under-employment – now at 1.226 million Australians (9.4%) and as significant a portion of the workforce as unemployed Australians – 1.236 million (9.4%).

“Finding work for 2.462 million Australians unemployed or under-employed is the Government’s largest challenge despite what the media may talk about on a continual basis. This large cohort of Australians looking for new employment opportunities will ultimately judge the Government’s success or otherwise based on whether an improving economy is generating sufficient jobs.

“A recent Roy Morgan survey on the ‘Most Important Problems Facing Australia’ revealed Unemployment was clearly the largest Economic issue mentioned by Australians ahead of The Economy, interest rates and Housing affordability. See here for further detail.”

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and ‘under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 543,715 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 – July 2017 and includes 4,754 face-to-face interviews in July 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 - July 2017 - 9.4%

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%