West Australian youth 15 -24 are facing an extremely tough unemployment situation. The Australian Bureau of Statistics official unemployment rate shows an increase to 16.7% for July and the highest rate for 2020. According to the ABS the official number of young adults unemployed is 36,000.[1]

At Population Research we use a wider unemployment measure than the ABS. We include WA youth that have dropped out of the Labour Force since the peak of the coronavirus in March 2020. A cumulative 17,000 youth have dropped out of Labour Force since March to July 2020. This adds up to a potential 53,000 young West Australian’s looking for work in July 2020, unemployment rate (24.7%). See Table 1 below

Table 1: Western Australian youth unemployment (15-24 age), official rate and cumulative rate, July 2020.

MonthLabour force total (000’s)Official total unemployed (000’s)Official unemployment rate
 Labour Force loss, (000’s)Official unemployed plus Labour Force loss (000’s)Cumulative rate
March – July 2020 17.050 53.04524.7%

(Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020.[2])

West Australia needs a better Government response to youth unemployment.

Population Research urges the McGowan Government to take priority action in helping WA’s youth get back into employment. They should immediately terminate the Foreign Graduate Occupation List, which has over 135 employment positions for international students to apply for in WA.[3] This should form part of a State Government plan to reduce the intense competition in WA’s extremely tight Labour market.

This is a most unfortunate time for West Australian youth and instead of encouraging greater competition for local jobs from overseas students. The Premier should cull State Migration programs and overseas students access to State nominated visas.

Overall unemployment in Western Australia remains high

While WA’s general unemployment showed some improvement dropping from 8.7% to 8.3% and 19,000 West Australian’s gaining employment. Compared to the rest of Australia, West Australia has the second highest general unemployment behind first place Queensland.[4] However, those are the Australian Bureau of Statistics official measures, which are no longer viewed as a robust measure of real Labour Force unemployment.

The Federal Treasury conduct there own ‘effective unemployment measures” to guide their response to mass unemployment.[5] Population Research WA believes this is a positive move by the Morrison Government enabling a more accurate estimate of the unemployment predicament facing the Australian population.

Applying a similar method as the Federal Government (i.e. incorporating people that dropped out of the WA Labour Force since the start of Wuhan Coronavirus period in March 2020). Population Research calculates West Australia’s unemployment rate at 9.2%, with 12,250 people dropping out of the Labour force from March 2020 to July 2020 but are not included in the official ABS unemployment figures.


[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘6202.0 – Labour Force, Australia, Jul 2020’ (c=AU; o=Commonwealth of Australia; ou=Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020) <> [accessed 15 August 2020].

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics.

[3] Government of West Australia, ‘Migration WA – Occupation Lists’, 2020 <> [accessed 11 February 2020].

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics.

[5] Australian Government, ‘July Economic and Fiscal Outlook’ (scheme=AGLSTERMS.AglsAgent; corporateName=Department of the Treasury, 2020) <> [accessed 17 August 2020].

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