Unemployment rate at a
28-year low

Australia’s unemployment rate is the lowest in a generation. Strong growth has created an abundance of job opportunities, raising workforce participation to record highs.

The challenge ahead will be to continue to improve our participation levels.

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More jobs for Australians

Australia’s unemployment rate has fallen to 5.1 per cent, the lowest level since November 1976. The unemployment rate has been below 6 per cent for almost two years, a sustained low outcome not seen for a generation.

More Australians are in work now than ever before. Since the Government was elected in March 1996, over 1.6 million jobs have been created.

High employment helps Australian families through increased income, higher standards of living and improved social engagement.

Australia’s participation rate, the percentage of working age population working or looking for work, is at a record high. The low unemployment rate and more job opportunities are encouraging people to join the labour force. A rise in the participation rate is a positive development as it increases the number of workers available to contribute to economic growth.

There is no evidence of widespread wage pressure, despite the low unemployment rate. The flexibility created by past labour market reforms means that the current low unemployment rate is more sustainable.

These reforms have also increased real wages without triggering inflation.

The prospects for ongoing low unemployment are good. The unemployment rate is forecast to remain around its current low level in 2005-06.

But we need to do more to improve participation levels. This budget delivers a range of reforms, including ‘welfare to work’ initiatives, to further increase workforce participation and improve productivity.

Chart: Australia’s unemployment rate has declined to a 28-year low

Australia’s unemployment rate has declined to a 28-year low

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6 2005-06 Budget Overview