More than 210,000 Australians returned to work in June

More than 210,000 Australians returned to work in June

Australia's unemployment rate reached its highest levels in more than two decades in June at 7.4 per cent, but a relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions meant more people were actually employed or looking for work.

Close to a quarter of a million people entered part-time employment in June, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The number of people employed in full-time jobs decreased by 38,100, but on the balance there was a rise of 210,800 in employment overall.

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

"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," ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said.

"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."

The nation's hours worked increased by 4 per cent, which is still 6.8 per cent short of March levels.

Hours worked increased more for females (5.0 per cent) than males (3.3 per cent) over the month, although the differential compared to pre-coronavirus circumstances is greater for women by almost one percentage point.

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

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

Updated at 10:02am AEST on 17 July 2020.

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