Every 3 months the Australian Department of Home Affairs publishes data via the Australian Bureau of Statistics on temporary visa holders in Australia. The most recent data comes from June 30, 2022 and it makes for interesting reading when one is looking for the route cause of Australia’s current labour shortages.
Australia’s unemployment rate hit just 3.5% in July, can this be explained by the foreign workforce being absent down-under?
On the surface, there were 1.9m visa holders in Australia as at June 30, 2022 compared to the pre-COVID benchmark of December 31, 2019 of 2.4m. This equates to around 500,000 fewer visa holders in Australia! “Ahha that’s why we have labour shortages” we hear you think, well… it’s a bit more nuanced than that.
Visitor visas, for whom do not have work rights in Australia, were at 635,109 as at December 31, 2022 (peak summer period). As at June 30, 2022 (mid winter low) there were only 219,607 visitor visas active in Australia – that is, more than 400,000 fewer visitors and this accounts for 80% of the delta to pre-COVID. BUT looking at like for like (June 30 ’22 to June 30 ’19), the variance is far less, with 316,469 visitors as at June 30 2019, a variance of just under 100,000! But fewer tourists should mean, higher unemployment / lower labour shortages…right?!
Here at Work In Australia our focus is 417 and 462 working holiday visas. Checking the stats, as at June 30 there were just under 41,000 Working Holiday Visas active in Australia, down from 141,000 from December 31, 2019 and 135,000 as at June 30 2019. Farming, hospitality, events and tourism have a significant reliance on working holiday makers and in effect, the labour force is currently 100,000 down on pre-COVID levels!
Student visas also dominate the retail and hospitality workforces in our major cities and the shrinkage in active foreign students in Australia is stark: 358,000 as at June 30, 2022 compare with 553,000 3 years previous! That’s another 200,000 out of the labour market!
Then there’s the temporary resident, skilled employment visas, they have dropped from 143,000 to 94,500 over the last 3 years, zapping another 50,000 workers from out labour market!
So, across the 3 key visa categories of working holiday, students and skilled – there were 350,000 fewer workers in Australia as at June 30, 2022 than pre-COVID!
BUT… it is interesting to note, Bridging Visas are up significantly from 180,000 as at June 30 2019 to a whooping 345,000 3 years later – accounting for practically half the shortfall described above! It is our understanding a significant portion of these are Students and Working Holiday Makers that elected to stay through the COVID period, in part offsetting the shortfalls described above.
Here’s the full break-down courtesy of data.gov.au
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