Australia Why the Great Resignation in Australia is a myth
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The Great Resignation phenomenon in Australia is proving to be a myth with very few workers actually quitting despite labour shortages and decade-low unemployment.
In February 2021, during the first year of the pandemic, a record-low 7.5 per cent of Australian workers changed jobs, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data released this week showed.
Women were slightly more likely to quit, with 7.6 per cent of female workers resigning compared with 7.5 per cent for men.
The 975,000 workers who resigned to take up another job was the lowest proportion of the labour force in official records going back to 1972.
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In February 2020, a month before the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic, a higher proportion of workers - 8.1 per cent - left their job.
The percentage of Australians resigning early last year was even lower than the 7.7 per cent who quit in February 2017.
By comparison, a record-high 19.5 per cent of workers resigned in early 1989, during a year when interest rates were at 17 per cent unlike today's record-low cash rate of 0.1 per cent.
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During the mining boom of early 2008, 11.5 per cent of the workforce resigned.
Australia's jobless rate in December fell to 4.2 per cent, from 4.6 per cent, marking the lowest jobless rate since August 2008.
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The ABS data on resignations covered February 2021, when the jobless rate was 5.9 per cent, having fallen from the national lockdown level of 7.4 per cent in July 2020 - the highest since 1998 with JobKeeper wage subsidies factored in.
Migrants with a working visa and international students returned to Australia in mid-December for the first time since March 2020, which would increase the supply of labour.
Hospitality venues in particular are struggling to recruit staff in a labour market which last month saw 245,600 jobs advertised online.
This represented a 46 per cent surge compared with February 2020 before the pandemic, National Skills Commission data showed, based on Seek ads data.
An Omicron surge is also requiring workers testing positive to isolate for seven days, creating labour shortages from supermarket shelf stacking to restaurants.
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