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More people working as cost-of-living pressures mount

By Jack Campbell | |4 minute read
More People Working As Cost Of Living Pressures Mount

The number of Aussies in full-time employment has seen a significant rise in recent months, highlighting just how much pressure the cost-of-living crisis is having on people.

For the month of March, the number of full-time workers increased by 20,400 to 9,838,600 people. This is these increases have been steady in 2024, with January seeing a rise of 4,600 full-time employees and February seeing an additional 13,000.

People are also working more hours, with the monthly hours worked increasing to 1,929 million, an increase of around 700,000 hours.


While this may initially seem like a positive, it paints a starker picture. Many are being forced into employment due to unfeasible cost-of-living pressures. In fact, according to ASPL Group, over 3.3 million Australians, including over 700,000 children, are currently living in poverty. Meanwhile, 40 per cent of renters have concerns about their ability to pay rent over the next three months.

“There’s not a single Australian who isn’t impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. While some may be fortunate enough to adjust spending habits, others are forced to take drastic measures to stay afloat in these expensive times,” commented ASPL Group chief executive Kris Grant.

ASPL Group noted that rising grocery bills have become one of the primary financial stressors for 42 per cent of households. This figure stood at 26 per cent just two years ago. Now, 92 per cent of people have begun seeking strategies to save money at the checkout.

“The data reflects a stark reality: many Australians are being pushed to the brink, with some resorting to additional employment or longer hours to make ends meet. While the increase in full-time employment offers a glimmer of hope, it also underscores the urgent need for comprehensive solutions to address the root causes of the cost-of-living crisis,” said Grant.

Part-time employment also saw a rise in March, increasing by 8,100 to 4,421,200 people. Despite the boost in full-time and part-time employment, the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.9 per cent, and underemployment remained at 6.6 per cent.

The participation rate, that is the total number of people who are currently employed or in search of a job, saw a decrease, hitting 66.6 per cent. Similarly, the employment-to-population ratio decreased to 64 per cent.

“The employment-to-population ratio has been above 64 per cent, in trend terms, for almost two years, since June 2022. This is almost 2 percentage points above its pre-pandemic level,” said Bjorn Jarvis, Australian Bureau of Statistics head of labour statistics.

“The labour market remained relatively tight in March, with an employment-to-population ratio and participation rate still close to their record highs in November 2023. While they have both fallen by 0.4 percentage points since then, they continue to be much higher than their pre-pandemic levels.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.