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1367.5 - Western Australian Statistical Indicators, Jun 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/07/2006   
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Feature Article - Labour Force Trends in Western Australia


INTRODUCTION

The labour force in Western Australia has undergone considerable change over the past 20 years. Growth in the labour force has been influenced by factors such as population growth, labour force participation and economic growth. Trends such as greater participation by women, rising part-time employment, increasing casualisation and an ageing population have led to marked changes in the composition of the state's labour force. More recently, robust economic growth has stimulated activity in Western Australia's housing and labour markets. This increased activity, coupled with the current resources boom, has led to a strong demand for labour. The impact this has had on the labour force can be seen in recent movements of labour force indicators, most of which are currently at record highs or lows.


This article will examine changes in the size and composition of the labour force in Western Australia and identify factors that have contributed to those changes. It will also explore changes in the geographic distribution of the state's labour force.



MAJOR FINDINGS

Since 1984-85, the Western Australian labour force has increased by 397,723 persons (59.7%) to reach 1,063,832 persons in 2004-05. The largest contributor to growth in the labour force over this time was population growth, largely due to net overseas migration which recently overtook natural increase as the main driver of population growth in the state. In recent years, growth in population, labour force participation and the economy have accelerated to historically high levels, driving the increase in the state's labour force to its highest level in 20 years.


Dramatic changes have occurred in the composition of Western Australia's labour force over the past two decades. Greater opportunities for women to participate in the labour force have seen their representation in the labour force increase and their participation rate rise, while the participation rate for men has fallen. The number of women employed in the state has almost doubled over the past 20 years, leading to a reduction in the gender wage gap, although women in Western Australia in 2004 still earned less than men on average.


Greater participation by women in the labour force, as well as increased participation in further education and the desire by employers for greater flexibility in their workforces, has seen a trend towards the increasing use of part-time workers. The number of part-time workers in the state more than doubled over the past two decades and almost one third of employed persons are now employed part-time. Growth in part-time work has been associated with the increasing casualisation of the Western Australian labour force. Over the past 12 years, casual employment increased at a rate more than three times that of permanent employment.


The ageing of the Western Australian population has led to a significant change in the age structure of the state's labour force. Growth has been very strong in those age groups aged 40 years and over, resulting in almost half the labour force now being mature age. The number of persons aged 45 years and over not in the labour force and permanently not intending to work, which provides an indication of permanent loss or retirement from the labour force, has increased steadily in recent years.


Traditionally, most employed persons in Western Australia have worked 35-44 hours per week, reflecting the prevalence of full-time employees in the labour force. However, the proportion of employed persons in this category declined over the past two decades, while the proportions of employed persons working 1-34 hours and 45 hours or more per week increased. The trend towards more people working 45 hours or more per week may be attributed to employers increasing their utilisation of existing employees in the face of labour shortages, while the increasing use of part-time workers is mainly responsible for the increase in the proportion of employed persons working 1-34 hours per week.


The past five years have seen considerable change in the geographic distribution of Western Australia's labour force, with much of this change reflecting broader population trends. The bulk of growth in the labour force occurred within the Perth metropolitan area, while the largest declines were recorded by rural and remote regions.



GROWTH OF THE LABOUR FORCE

The labour force is defined as those persons aged 15 years and over who are either employed or unemployed, as defined below.

Employed persons are those who, during the reference week of the Labour Force Survey:

  • worked for one hour or more for payment in a job, business or on a farm;
  • worked for one hour or more without pay in a family business or on a farm;
  • were employees who had a job but were not at work; or
  • were employers or own account workers who had a job, business or farm but were not at work.

Unemployed persons are those who were not employed during the reference week and:
  • had actively looked for work at any time in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week and were available for work in the reference week; or
  • were waiting to start a new job within four weeks from the end of the reference week and could have started in the reference week if the job had been available then.

The labour force is a key measure of the total supply of labour available to the labour market. Growth in the labour force is influenced by several factors, including growth in the working age population (those aged 15 years and over), changes in labour force participation rates and economic growth.


POPULATION

The largest contributing factor to growth in the labour force is population growth, particularly in the working age population aged 15 years and over, which effectively determines the size of the labour force. Despite peaks in the mid to late 1980s and the early 1990s, population growth in Western Australia has generally followed a downward trend over the last 20 years. In recent years, however, population growth has accelerated, rising from a low of 23,394 persons in 2001-02 to reach 32,034 persons in 2004-05 - a level not seen since 1989-90 (34,615 persons).


The extent to which population growth contributes to labour force growth depends on which components drive the growth in population. The components of population growth are natural increase (births minus deaths), net interstate migration (arrivals minus departures) and net overseas migration (arrivals minus departures). Historically, natural increase has been the main driver of population growth in Western Australia, accounting for an average of 50.7% of growth over the last 20 years. However, natural increase does not make an immediate contribution to labour force growth, as a person must reach 15 years of age before entering the labour force. In contrast, migration can make an immediate contribution to the size of the labour force if migrants are aged 15 years and over. The average contribution of net overseas migration to population growth was 45.9% between 1984-85 and 2004-05, while the average contribution of net interstate migration was only 4.5%.

COMPONENTS OF POPULATION GROWTH: Original
Graph: Components of population growth: Original



Since 1999-2000, net overseas migration has overtaken natural increase to become the largest contributor to population growth in Western Australia. Between 1999-2000 and 2004-05, Western Australia's population increased by 135,654 persons, with over half that growth attributable to net overseas migration (56.7%). Of these 76,927 overseas migrants, 60,675 (78.9%) were aged 15 years and over, and therefore had the potential to add to the state's labour force.


The recent acceleration in population growth, driven by net overseas migration, has seen growth in Western Australia's labour force rise above the 20-year average for the first time since 1998-99. An average of 23,115 persons have joined the state's labour force each year since 2002-03, well above the 20-year average of 19,886 persons. In 2004-05, labour force growth peaked at 32,118 persons - the largest annual increase since 1985-86 (34,126 persons). Despite this recovery, there was a period from 1995-96 to 2001-02 during which labour force growth was relatively subdued compared to growth in the state's population. This indicates that other factors, such as labour force participation and economic growth, were also impacting on labour force growth over this time.

POPULATION AND LABOUR FORCE GROWTH: Original
Graph: Population and labour force growth: Original



PARTICIPATION

Participation forms the link between population and labour force growth, and is measured by the
participation rate
, which is defined as the labour force expressed as a percentage of the civilian population aged 15 years and over. An increase in population will only increase the size of the labour force if those people participate. Despite a decline in the early 1990s, Western Australia's participation rate generally followed an upward trend for the ten years from 1984-85 to 1994-95, increasing from 63.2% in 1984-85 to a record high of 66.5% in 1994-95. Since then, however, the state's participation rate has generally followed a downward trend, declining over the last decade to a low of 65.8% in 2003-04. This period of decline coincided with a period of slow labour force growth.

PARTICIPATION RATE: Original
Graph: Participation rate: Original



In 2004-05, Western Australia's participation rate rose sharply to a ten-year high of 66.5% which, combined with the peak in population growth in the same year, drove growth in the state's labour force to its highest level in 20 years. Improved job opportunities and employment conditions as a result of strong labour demand, appears to have encouraged more people, particularly those marginally attached to the labour force, to participate.


ECONOMIC GROWTH

In addition to population growth and changes in the participation rate, growth in the labour force is also influenced by economic growth. Generally, periods of robust economic activity will stimulate the labour market, leading to the creation of new jobs, increased demand for labour, high rates of employment and labour force growth. Movements in employment usually follow movements in economic growth, and this has been the case in Western Australia for the past 16 years. Western Australia has enjoyed a sustained period of strong economic growth since the early 1990s. As a measure of the state's economic activity, Gross State Product (GSP) increased for all but one year between 1989-90 and 2004-05, with growth peaking in 1994-95 (7.8%), 1997-98 (6.0%) and 2003-04 (8.1%). In response, employment growth peaked in 1994-95 (4.8%), 1997-98 (2.9%) and 2004-05 (4.2%). The most recent peak in employment growth in 2004-05 would have contributed to the rise in labour force growth in that year, as a result of the combined effect of historically high growth in population, labour force participation and the economy.

ECONOMIC(a) AND EMPLOYMENT(b) GROWTH
Graph: Economic and employment growth




CHANGES IN LABOUR FORCE COMPOSITION

Labour force composition refers to the characteristics of the labour force, including employed and unemployed persons, males and females, full-time and part-time employment, status of employed persons and the breakdown of the labour force by age groups, industries and occupations. These changes can be analysed using data collected by the monthly Labour Force Survey and supplementary surveys, which contain a series of questions to classify the population according to the framework presented in the diagram below.

Diagram: Changes in Labour Force Composition


EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT

Persons in the labour force can have a labour force status of employed or unemployed. In Western Australia, the number of employed persons has increased by 66.7% over the past 20 years, rising to a peak of 1,013,461 persons in 2004-05. Over this period, the proportion of employed persons in the labour force increased from 91.3% in 1984-85 to 95.3% in 2004-05. Growth in the number of employed persons in the state has not, however, remained steady over the past two decades, ranging from a fall of 4,918 persons in 1990-91 to a rise of 40,765 persons in 2004-05.


After recovering from a period of sharp decline during the recession of the early 1990s, employment growth again declined to a low of 10,529 persons in 2001-02. Since then, however, annual growth in the number of employed persons in Western Australia has averaged 26,738 persons, well above the 20-year average of 20,276 persons. In 2004-05, employment growth peaked at 40,765 persons, aided by increased participation in the labour force.

EMPLOYMENT GROWTH: Original
Graph: Employment growth: Original



In contrast to the increase in the number of employed persons in Western Australia over the past 20 years, the number of unemployed persons decreased to total 50,371 persons in 2004-05. The state's unemployment rate, which measures the proportion of unemployed persons in the labour force, has generally been in decline since peaking at 10.7% in 1991-92. In 2004-05, the unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level on record (4.7%) after declining from 6.6% in 2001-02.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: Original
Graph: Unemployment rate: Original



UNDERUTILISED LABOUR

The extent to which the labour supply is used is important economically and socially. From an economic perspective, interest focuses on the amount of spare capacity in the supply of labour, while socially there is concern that people whose aspirations for work are not being met may suffer financial hardship. The number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate are the most well known measures of the available labour resources not currently utilised in the economy. When measuring labour underutilisation, however, these measures do not tell the whole story. A fuller picture of underutilised labour is obtained by including information about other groups who share labour market characteristics in common with the unemployed.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has developed five headcount measures which provide an indication of the proportion of the population affected by labour underutilisation. These are the unemployment rate, the long-term unemployment rate, the underemployment rate, the labour force underutilisation rate and the extended labour force underutilisation rate.


The past decade has seen significant improvements in all of these measures for Western Australia. Similar to other labour market indicators, much of this improvement has occurred in the last five years, reflecting the strength of demand for labour during a period of robust economic growth.


The long-term unemployment rate is the number of long-term unemployed persons as a proportion of the labour force. Long-term unemployed persons are those who have been unemployed for at least one year. Over the past decade, the number of long-term unemployed persons in Western Australia fell from 14,200 persons in September 1995 to 4,700 persons in September 2005.

UNEMPLOYMENT AND LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT RATES
Graph: Unemployment and long-term unemployment rates



Movements in the long-term unemployment rate in Western Australia have generally reflected movements in the unemployment rate over the past ten years. Between September 1995 and September 2005, the state's long-term unemployment rate fell from 1.6% to 0.4%, while the unemployment rate fell from 7.2% to 4.0%.


The underemployment rate represents the number of underemployed workers as a proportion of the labour force. Underemployed workers include part-time workers (aged 15 years and over) who want more hours of work than they currently have and are available to start work within a four week period; and full-time workers who for economic reasons worked less than 35 hours per week in the reference week of the labour force survey.

UNEMPLOYMENT AND UNDEREMPLOYMENT RATES
Graph: Unemployment and underemployment rates



In September 2005, there were 53,000 workers in Western Australia who were underemployed, representing 5.0% of all employed persons. Like the unemployment rate, Western Australia's underemployment rate is currently at its lowest point in the last ten years after declining from a high of 6.0% in September 2002 to 4.8% in September 2005. The fall in the underemployment rate since September 2002 has been more gradual for women (1.0 percentage points) than men (1.3 percentage points). Their underemployment rate (7.1%) was more than double the male underemployment rate (3.0%) in September 2005.


Of the 53,000 workers in Western Australia who were underemployed in September 2005, around nine tenths (87.9%) were part-time workers wanting more hours. While part-time work allows greater flexibility for people to balance work with family, education and other non-work commitments, there is concern that many persons employed part-time work fewer hours than they would like.


Women and young workers are most likely to be working part-time and wanting more hours. In the August quarter 2005, 64,200 part-time workers (21.2%) in Western Australia wanted more hours of work with almost two thirds (42,600) being women. Over one third (36.0%) of those part-time workers wanting more hours were young people aged 15-24 years.


The extended labour force underutilisation rate is the broadest of ABS measures of underutilised labour and is the sum of the unemployed, the underemployed and two groups of people marginally attached to the labour force, as a proportion of the labour force augmented by those two groups. The two groups of marginally attached people are:

  • people actively looking for work, not available to start work in the reference week, but available to start within four weeks; and
  • discouraged jobseekers or persons who wanted to work and were available to start work within the next four weeks but were not actively looking for work.
EXTENDED LABOUR FORCE UNDERUTILISATION RATES
Graph: Extended labour force undertilsation rates



In September 2005, there were 80,600 people marginally attached to the labour force in Western Australia, 68.7% of whom were women. About one in eight (10,400) people who were marginally attached to the labour force were either discouraged jobseekers or people who were actively looking for work, not available to start work in the reference week, but available to start within four weeks.


Western Australia's extended labour force underutilisation rate is currently at its lowest point in the past decade, having declined from 13.9% in September 1995 to 9.7% in September 2005. Despite a slightly larger improvement for females (4.5 percentage points) than for males (4.1 percentage points) over this period, the extended underutilisation rate in September 2005 remained significantly higher for women (12.4%) than men (7.6%).


MEN AND WOMEN IN THE LABOUR FORCE

Changing attitudes to women's roles and the general acceptance of women in the labour force are reflected in significant changes in the proportions of men and women in Western Australia's labour force over the past 20 years. Between 1984-85 and 2004-05, the proportion of women in the state's labour force increased from 37.9% to 44.2%. An average of 10,872 women entered the labour force each year over this period, compared to an average of 9,015 men.

LABOUR FORCE, Proportions of Males and Females
Graph: Labour force, Proportions of Males and Females



Greater opportunities have emerged over the past 20 years for women to participate in the labour force, with changes to family formation, child bearing and fertility patterns, increasing availability of child care services, improved educational opportunities and greater flexibility in working arrangements, notably the increasing incidence of part-time and casual employment. As a result of these changes, the participation rate for women in the Western Australian labour force increased from 47.9% in 1984-85 to 58.4% in 2004-05. In contrast, the participation rate for men declined from 78.4% to 74.8% over the same period. In 2004-05, the participation rate for women rose by 1.3 percentage points, the largest annual increase in the last ten years.

PARTICIPATION RATE: Original
Graph: Participation rate: Original



As a result of the increased participation of women in the labour force, the number of women employed has increased substantially over the past 20 years. Since 1984-85, the number of women employed in Western Australia has almost doubled, increasing by 94.2% to reach 445,381 in 2004-05. The number of men employed in the state increased by 50.1% over the same period to reach 568,081 in 2004-05. The larger increase in the number of women employed saw women as a proportion of total employed persons rise from 37.7% in 1984-85 to 43.9% in 2004-05.


A slight rise in the number of women who are unemployed in Western Australia over the past two decades can also be attributed to the increased participation of women in the labour force, as persons in the labour force can be employed or unemployed. The number of unemployed women in the state increased by 6.2% from 1984-85 to 24,561 in 2004-05. In contrast, the number of unemployed men declined by 26.3% over the same period to 25,809 in 2004-05.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: Original
Graph: Unemployment rate: Original



Despite the increase in the number of unemployed women, the unemployment rate for women has been lower than that for men for much of the past 20 years. The unemployment rate for men first overtook that for women during the recession of the early 1990s, which may reflect a propensity for women to exit the labour market rather than remain unemployed when jobs become harder to find. The unemployment rate for men remained higher throughout the 1990s, before recently dropping below the unemployment rate for women in 2003-04. The unemployment rate for women increased by 0.7 percentage points in that year, the largest annual increase since 1991-92 (1.3 percentage points). This rise, coupled with the recent large increase in the participation rate for women, provides more evidence that some marginally attached persons who are more likely to be women, may have been encouraged to enter the labour force.


Prior to the 1970s, pay rates for women in Australia were set as a proportion of the adult male basic wage. This changed with a decision in 1972 granting equal pay for equal work, which paved the way for a reduction in the gender wage gap between men and women. Since then the increased participation of women in the labour force, as a result of greater opportunities, has also contributed to reducing the gender wage gap.


A comparison of the earnings of men and women can be affected by compositional differences, such as the number of hours worked, between male and female labour forces. One way of standardising for these compositional differences is to select a subset of employed men and women with similar earnings-sensitive labour force characteristics. Therefore, the measure used in this article to examine the gender wage gap in Western Australia is average hourly ordinary time earnings of full-time adult non-managerial employees.

FEMALE TO MALE EARNINGS RATIO, Full-time adult non-managerial employees
Graph: Female to male earnings ratio, Full-time adult non-managerial employees



In 2004, the ratio of female to male average hourly ordinary time earnings for full-time adult non-managerial employees was 0.88. In other words, female earnings were 88.0% of male earnings, resulting in a gender wage gap of 12.0%. Among full-time adult non-managerial employees in 2004, females recorded average hourly ordinary time earnings of $21.07 compared to $24.08 for males. The female to male earnings ratio rose from a low of 0.84 in 1996 to reach a record high of 0.93 in 2000, reflecting the faster growth of female earnings over this period. Between 1996 and 2000 female earnings rose by an annual average of 5.1%, double the average annual growth of 2.5% for males.


Despite the narrowing of the gender wage gap since the 1970s, women in Western Australia in 2004 were still earning less than men. Much of this discrepancy can be explained by the differences in earnings between the industries and occupations in which men and women are traditionally employed.


FULL-TIME AND PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT

The desire by employers to achieve greater flexibility in their workforces and gain cost advantages, as well as increasing participation in further education and greater participation by women in the labour force, have seen a trend towards the increasing use of part-time workers over the past 20 years. Between 1984-85 and 2004-05, the number of part-time workers (those working less than 35 hours per week) in Western Australia more than doubled, rising by 152.7% to reach 297,403 persons. In comparison, the number of full-time workers (those working 35 hours or more per week) rose by 46.1% over the same period to reach 716,058 persons. As a result of the strong growth in part-time employment over the past two decades, the proportion of part-time workers in the state increased from 19.4% in 1984-85 to 29.3% in 2004-05. Almost one third of employed persons in Western Australia are now employed part-time.

EMPLOYED PERSONS, Proportions employed Full-time and Part-time
Graph: Employed persons, Proportions employed Full-time and Part-time



The significant growth in part-time employment in Western Australia over the past 20 years has been associated with the increasing casualisation of the state's labour force, and there is a strong link between working part-time hours and working on a casual basis. Casual employees can be defined as employees who are not entitled to either paid holiday or paid sick leave in their main job. Compared to permanent employees (those who are entitled to paid holiday and paid sick leave), casual employees tend to be younger and less well educated, more likely to have higher levels of variable hours and more than one job, and tend to be employed in industries and occupations that offer jobs which are part-time and which require lower levels of skill. These types of jobs attract younger workers who want to combine work with study and women who want to combine work and family responsibilities.


Between 1992 and 2004, the number of persons employed on a casual basis in Western Australia increased by 69.0%, more than three times the rate of increase in the number of persons employed on a permanent basis (19.3%). An average of 6,396 casuals were added to the state's labour force each year over this period. Consequently, the proportion of casual workers rose from 15.1% in 1992 to 19.7% in 2004.


The strong link between working part-time hours and working on a casual basis is supported by the large proportion of casual employees who work part-time. Over the past 12 years, the proportion of casual employees who work part-time has fluctuated between 65.7% and 75.7%, or between approximately two thirds and three quarters of the casual workforce. However, growth in the number of casual employees who work full-time has been stronger over this period, rising by 87.7% compared to growth of 61.9% in the number of part-time casuals. As a result, the proportion of full-time casuals increased from 27.4% in 1992 to 30.4% in 2004.

CASUAL EMPLOYEES, Proportions employed Full-time and Part-time
Graph: Casual employees, Proportions employed Full-time and Part-time



he proportion of casual employees working part-time rose sharply from 65.7% in 2001 to 69.6% in 2004, suggesting that employers are utilising more flexible employment options to meet their labour needs.


AGEING OF THE LABOUR FORCE

Western Australia's population is ageing, as is the rest of the nation, as a result of long-term declines in fertility and increasing life expectancy. Over the past 20 years, the median age (the age at which half the population is older and half is younger) of the state's population increased by 6.4 years, from 29.8 years at 30 June 1985 to 36.2 years at 30 June 2005. The age structure of the population has shifted as the average number of births per woman and the incidence of death in all age groups have declined, which has resulted in smaller proportions of the population at younger ages and larger proportions at older ages. The changing age structure of the population, and in particular the working age population, has significant implications for the supply of labour now and into the future.


Population ageing constrains growth in the labour force, which has been likened to a leaky tub being filled by a hose (Productivity Commission 2004). Retirement and other moves out of the labour force deplete it, while it is being replenished mainly by new young recruits and women re-entering the labour force after childbirth. The ageing of the population has significant effects on these flows by increasing outflows due to retirement, while stemming inflows of new young workers. The major impact of population ageing on the labour force is to reduce labour force participation rates, as more people move into age groups that have lower involvement in the labour force.


The ageing of the Western Australian population over the past 20 years has resulted in significant changes in the age structure of the labour force. Growth has been very strong in those age groups aged 40 years and over, which has resulted in the proportion of the labour force aged 40 years and over rising from 33.3% in 1984-85 to 48.2% in 2004-05. Driving growth in the proportion of the labour force aged 40 years and over were large increases in the numbers of people in age groups aged 45 years and over, all of which more than doubled between 1984-85 and 2004-05. The largest growth was recorded for the age groups 65-69 years (up 401.1%), 60-64 years (up 187.7%) and 55-59 years (up 157.1%). Growth among the age groups aged 15-39 years ranged from 15.0% for those aged 25-29 years to 33.4% for those aged 35-39 years.

LABOUR FORCE, Proportions by age groups
Graph: Labour force, Proportions by age groups



As the labour force ages and more people move into older age groups, the rate of retirement from the labour force increases. In Western Australia, the proportion of the labour force aged 45 years and over rose from 22.8% in 1984-85 to 35.8% in 2004-05. However, growth in the proportion of mature age workers slowed in 2004-05, suggesting an increase in persons aged 45 years and over retiring from the labour force. This is further supported by a rise in the proportion of persons aged 45 years and over not in the labour force in that year.


Since 2001-02, the number of persons aged 45 years and over not in Western Australia's labour force has risen by 15,186 (4.6%) to reach 344,424 persons in 2004-05. Almost all of these mature age persons not in the state's labour force were not looking for work or unable to work (99.1%). Of those persons not looking for work or unable to work in 2004-05, 43.3% were permanently not intending to work. This proportion, which provides an indication of permanent loss or retirement from the labour force, has increased steadily from 37.7% in 2001-02.


INDUSTRIES AND OCCUPATIONS

The industry and occupation employment structure of the Western Australian labour market has remained relatively constant over the past decade, and those industries and occupations that were the largest employers in the state in the mid-1990s remain the largest employers today. Despite this stability, several trends emerged over the period to impact on the growth of certain types of industries and occupations.


In 2004-05, the largest employing industries in Western Australia in terms of share of total employed persons were Retail trade (15.1%), Property and business services (11.8%), Health and community services (9.7%), Manufacturing (9.5%) and Construction (9.1%). These five industries together employed over half (55.2%) the state's workers.


The past decade has seen a slight move away from employment in traditional goods-producing industries towards greater employment in service industries, associated with increases in the numbers of women and part-time workers in the labour force. Both of these groups are more likely to be employed in service industries.


Between 1994-95 and 2004-05, employment growth in service industries (27.4%) in Western Australia outstripped employment growth in goods-producing industries (18.9%). As a result, the proportion of persons employed in service industries in the state rose from 70.1% to 71.5% over this period. Driving growth in the service industries over the past ten years were large increases in employment in Property and business services (up 42,451 persons), Retail trade (up 34,152 persons) and Health and community services (up 24,196 persons).

INDUSTRY EMPLOYMENT AND ESTIMATED GROSS INDUSTRY PRODUCT(a)

INDUSTRY EMPLOYMENT
ESTIMATED GROSS INDUSTRY PRODUCT
1994-95
2004-05
Change
1994-95
2004-05
Change
Industry(b)
no.
no.
no.
%
$m
$m
$m
%

Service industries:
Property and business services
77 151
119 602
42 451
55.0
4 836
10 992
6 156
127.3
Retail trade
118 553
152 705
34 152
28.8
3 249
5 684
2 436
75.0
Health and community services
74 498
98 693
24 196
32.5
2 761
5 703
2 942
106.6
Education
56 318
70 610
14 292
25.4
1 910
3 141
1 231
64.4
Government administration and defence
30 633
42 271
11 638
38.0
2 307
3 771
1 464
63.4
Personal and other services
33 916
45 481
11 565
34.1
1 033
1 751
717
69.4
Accommodation, cafes and restaurants
37 958
43 142
5 184
13.7
800
1 598
798
99.8
Transport and storage
37 859
42 560
4 701
12.4
2 338
4 617
2 279
97.4
Cultural and recreational services
18 273
22 612
4 339
23.7
470
970
500
106.3
Communication services
11 684
14 632
2 949
25.2
1 533
2 562
1 029
67.1
Wholesale trade
44 946
46 564
1 619
3.6
2 633
3 974
1 342
51.0
Finance and insurance
27 230
26 208
-1 022
-3.8
1 951
3 909
1 957
100.3
Total(c)
569 017
725 079
156 062
27.4
25 821
48 671
22 851
88.5
Goods producing industries:
Construction
69 675
92 087
22 412
32.2
3 651
7 065
3 414
93.5
Manufacturing
83 163
96 621
13 457
16.2
5 826
9 417
3 591
61.6
Mining
31 263
42 113
10 850
34.7
9 585
21 582
11 997
125.2
Electricity, gas and water supply
9 652
9 965
313
3.2
1 324
3 090
1 766
133.4
Agriculture, forestry and fishing
49 179
48 026
-1 153
-2.3
2 742
4 572
1 830
66.7
Total(c)
242 932
288 811
45 879
18.9
23 128
45 726
22 598
97.7
Western Australia(c)(d)
811 949
1 013 892
201 944
24.9
52 191
100 900
48 709
93.3

(a) Estimated Gross Industry Product at current prices.
(b) Industries are ranked from highest to lowest based on growth in employment between 1994-95 and 2004-05.
(c) Discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals due to rounding.
(d) Includes the principal components Ownership of dwellings and General government not shown in the table.
Source: Australian National Accounts: State Accounts, cat. no. 5220.0; Labour Force, Australia, cat. no. 6202.0.


Despite greater employment growth in service industries in Western Australia over the past ten years, goods-producing industries recorded stronger growth in estimated gross industry product, rising by 97.7% between 1994-95 and 2004-05, compared to 88.5% for service industries. Much of this growth occurred in 2004-05, when estimated gross industry product for goods-producing industries rose by $5,670 million, the largest annual increase in the past decade and more than double the average annual increase of $2,260 million over this period. Almost all of this recent growth was attributable to Mining and Construction, which recorded increases in estimated gross industry product of $4,790 million and $683 million respectively in 2004-05, aided by the resources boom and buoyant housing market in the state.


The five largest employing occupations in Western Australia in 2004-05 in terms of share of total employed persons were Professionals (17.2%), Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers (15.8%), Tradespersons and related workers (13.9%), Associate professionals (12.9%) and Elementary clerical, sales and service workers (9.8%). Together, these occupations employed more than two thirds (69.6%) of workers in the state.


Changes in the industry structure of the Western Australian labour market over the past decade appear to have contributed to a rise in the importance attached to skills. While the proportions of persons employed in skilled and unskilled occupations were almost equal in 1996-97 (49.4% and 50.6% respectively), the faster growth in skilled employment since then has seen the proportion of persons employed in skilled occupations rise to 52.3% in 2004-05.

OCCUPATION EMPLOYMENT

1996-97
2004-05
Change
Occupation(a)
no.
no.
no.
%

Skilled occupations:
Professionals
132 044
174 000
41 956
31.8
Associate professionals
93 980
131 084
37 105
39.5
Managers and administrators
58 383
84 076
25 694
44.0
Tradespersons and related workers
134 291
140 611
6 320
4.7
Total(b)
418 697
529 771
111 074
26.5
Unskilled occupations:
Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers
127 171
160 144
32 974
25.9
Intermediate production and transport workers
80 265
91 546
11 281
14.1
Elementary clerical, sales and service workers
89 798
99 356
9 558
10.6
Labourers and related workers
89 141
92 938
3 797
4.3
Advanced clerical and service workers
42 769
40 136
-2 633
-6.2
Total(b)
429 144
484 120
54 976
12.8
Western Australia
847 841
1 013 892
166 051
19.6

(a) Occupations are ranked from highest to lowest based on growth in employment between 1996-97 and 2004-05.
(b) Discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals due to rounding.
Source: Labour Force, Australia, cat. no. 6202.0.


Strong demand for skilled workers has led to a sharp rise in employment in skilled occupations. In 2004-05, the number of persons employed in skilled occupations rose by 26,963 - the largest annual increase in the last eight years and almost double the average annual growth of 13,884 persons over this period.


STATUS OF EMPLOYED PERSONS

Status of employed persons refers to the classification of workers as employees, employers, own account workers and contributing family workers (not considered in this article). An employee is a person who works for a public or private employer and receives remuneration from their employer while working, or a person who operates their own incorporated enterprise with or without hiring employees. An employer is a person who operates their own unincorporated enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade, and hires one or more employees. An own account worker is a person who operates his or her own unincorporated enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade, and hires no employees.


The status of employed persons in Western Australia has remained relatively stable over the past 20 years, with the majority of workers in the state being employees. Between 1985-86 and 2004-05, the proportions of employees and own account workers both rose slightly, from 82.1% to 84.3% and from 11.0% to 11.3% respectively. Growth in the number of own account workers kept pace with growth in the number of employees over the period, increasing by 61.4% and 61.6% respectively. The number of employers increased marginally by 0.1%.

EMPLOYMENT GROWTH, By status of employed persons
Graph: Employment growth, By status of employed persons



Growth in all three types of workers in the state accelerated in 2004-05, with the number of employees rising by 3.9% and the number of own account workers by 4.1%, well above the 19-year average annual growth rate for both of 2.6%. The number of employers recorded an even sharper rise, increasing by 12.1%, sixty times the 19-year average annual growth of 0.2% and the largest annual growth in the past two decades. Some of those self-employed tradespersons classified as own account workers may have been encouraged to hire one or more employees to take advantage of the high level of activity in the state's housing market, resulting in a change in their classification to employer.


Traditionally, most employed persons in Western Australia have worked 35-44 hours per week, reflecting the prevalence of full-time employees in the labour force. Over the past 20 years, however, there has been a shift away from these traditional working hours and a move towards both shorter and longer working hours, resulting in greater proportions of employed persons working less than 35 hours per week and 45 hours or more per week.

EMPLOYED PERSONS, Proportions by hours worked categories
Graph: Employed persons, Proportions by hours worked categories



Between 1985-86 and 2004-05, the proportion of employed persons working 35-44 hours per week fell from 42.6% to 32.1%, while the proportion of employed persons working 45 hours or more per week rose from 24.5% to 29.3%. Driving growth in longer working hours over this period were large increases in the numbers of employed persons working 60 hours or more (96.8%) and 50-59 hours (94.2%) per week, both of which almost doubled. The apparent mismatch between strong growth in the number of employees (61.6%) and a fall in the proportion of employed persons working 35-44 hours per week between 1985-86 and 2004-05 indicates that more employees are now working either longer hours as employers increase their utilisation of existing workers in the face of labour shortages, or shorter hours associated with the trend towards part-time work.


The increasing use of part-time workers in Western Australia over the past two decades has seen the proportion of employed persons working 1-34 hours per week (part-time hours) overtake the proportion of employed persons working 35-44 hours per week. Between 1985-86 and 2004-05, the proportion of employed persons working 1-34 hours per week rose from 26.9% to 33.6%, greater than the 32.1% proportion of employed persons working 35-44 hours per week in 2004-05. Driving growth in the proportion of employed persons working part-time hours were significant increases in the number of employed persons working 16-29 hours (126.8%) and 1-15 hours (89.5%) per week. In fact, the number of employed persons working 16-29 hours per week recorded the largest growth of all hours worked categories over that time.



GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA'S LABOUR FORCE

The past five years have seen considerable change in the geographic distribution of Western Australia's labour force, with much of this change reflecting broader population trends. The largest increases in labour force in the state occurred in regions within the Perth metropolitan area, while the largest declines were experienced by rural and remote regions.


Nine of the ten Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) in Western Australia that recorded large labour force growth between 2000-01 and 2004-05 were located in the metropolitan area, in regions where new residential construction was still occurring. The city of Swan recorded the largest increase of 7,872 persons, followed by Bayswater (6,929 persons) and Rockingham (5,471 persons). Part of the increase for Bayswater was due to a change in the boundary of Stirling-South Eastern during the period, which resulted in the suburb of Maylands becoming part of Bayswater. The city of Mandurah was the only non-metropolitan SLA to feature in the top ten largest increases in labour force, recording growth of 2,411 persons, mainly attributable to the coastal lifestyle and new housing affordability benefits it offers.

LARGEST INCREASES IN LABOUR FORCE, By SLA

Change in labour force 2000-01 to 2004-05
SLA name
no.
%

Swan (C)
7 872
20.8
Bayswater (C)(a)
6 929
27.2
Rockingham (C)
5 471
17.4
Joondalup (C)-North
5 154
22.3
Gosnells (C)
4 450
10.3
Cockburn (C)
4 363
12.4
Wanneroo (C)-North-West
4 024
43.3
Canning (C)
3 754
9.2
Wanneroo (C)-North-East
2 923
32.4
Mandurah (C)
2 411
12.4

(a) A change in the boundary of Stirling (C)-South-Eastern during the period resulted in the suburb of Maylands being removed from that SLA and moved into Bayswater (C).
Source: Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.


The fastest labour force growth rates between 2000-01 and 2004-05 were mainly recorded by rural and remote regions. Wanneroo-North-West and Wanneroo-North-East were the only metropolitan SLAs to feature in the top ten fastest growing regions in terms of labour force, recording growth of 43.3% and 32.4% respectively. Gingin recorded the fastest growth in labour force over the period, rising by 54.8%, followed by Toodyay (49.5%) and Murchison (47.0%). The rapid labour force growth in Gingin and Toodyay has been associated with people moving out of urban areas to a semi-rural lifestyle. Increases in areas with large Indigenous populations such as Ngaanyatjarraku (35.8%) may be related to participation in Community Development Employment Projects.

FASTEST INCREASES IN LABOUR FORCE, By SLA

Change in labour force 2000-01 to 2004-05
SLA name
%
no.

Gingin (S)
54.8
748
Toodyay (S)
49.5
698
Murchison (S)
47.0
31
Irwin (S)
44.6
474
Wanneroo (C)-North-West
43.3
4 024
Chapman Valley (S)
37.6
158
Chittering (S)
37.4
420
Ngaanyatjarraku (S)
35.8
202
Dalwallinu (S)
33.7
294
Wanneroo-North-East
32.4
2923

Source: Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.


Many of the largest declines in labour force between 2000-01 and 2004-05 were recorded by rural and remote regions of Western Australia. Among the rural and remote regions, Ashburton recorded the largest decline of 1,186 persons, followed by Leonora (1,022 persons), East Pilbara (878 persons) and Coolgardie (762 persons). Declines in these mining regions may be associated with workers residing outside the region when not working. In the metropolitan area, Stirling-South Eastern recorded the largest decline in labour force, falling by 6,326 persons, followed by Stirling-Central (2,294 persons), Joondalup-South (960 persons) and Melville (856 persons). Part of the decrease for Stirling-South Eastern was due to the boundary change that resulted in Maylands becoming part of Bayswater.

LARGEST DECREASES IN LABOUR FORCE, By SLA

Change in labour force 2000-01 to 2004-05
SLA name
no.
%

Stirling (C)-South-Eastern(a)
-6 326
-41.1
Stirling (C)-Central
-2 294
-4.1
Ashburton (S)
-1 186
-24.6
Leonora (S)
-1 022
-41.8
Joondalup (C)-South
-960
-1.4
East Pilbara (S)
-878
-19.5
Melville (C)
-856
-1.6
Coolgardie (S)
-762
-24.4
Meekatharra (S)
-710
-44.7
Collie (S)
-708
-13.9

(a) A change in the boundary of Stirling (C)-South-Eastern during the period resulted in the suburb of Maylands being removed from that SLA and moved into Bayswater (C).
Source: Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.


The ten SLAs recording the fastest declines in labour force from 2000-01 to 2004-05 were almost all located in rural and remote regions of Western Australia, where falls ranged from 28.1% in Menzies to 60.3% in Sandstone.

FASTEST DECREASES IN LABOUR FORCE, By SLA

Change in labour force 2000-01 to 2004-05
SLA name
%
no.

Sandstone (S)
-60.3
-144
Wiluna (S)
-53.9
-655
Cue (S)
-52.5
-251
Meekatharra (S)
-44.7
-710
Leonora (S)
-41.8
-1 022
Stirling (C)-South-Eastern(a)
-41.1
-6 326
Yalgoo (S)
-32.4
-124
Yilgarn (S)
-32.4
-572
Laverton (S)
-28.4
-278
Menzies (S)
-28.1
-87

(a) A change in the boundary of Stirling (C)-South-Eastern during the period resulted in the suburb of Maylands being removed from that SLA and moved into Bayswater (C).
Source: Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.



REFERENCES

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002, The Labour Force, in Year Book Australia 2002, cat. no. 1301.0, ABS, Canberra.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2003, Changes in labour force participation across generations, in Australian Social Trends 2003, cat. no. 4102.0, ABS, Canberra.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2003, Underutilised labour, in Australian Social Trends 2003, cat. no. 4102.0, ABS, Canberra.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2005, Casual employees, in Australian Social Trends 2005, cat. no. 4102.0, ABS, Canberra.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2005, Female/male earnings, in Australian Social Trends 2005, cat. no. 4102.0, ABS, Canberra.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2005, Labour force participation in Australia, in Australian Labour Market Statistics January 2005, cat. no. 6105.0, ABS, Canberra.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2005, Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories, June 2005, cat. no. 3201.0, ABS, Canberra.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006, Labour Force, Australia, February 2006, cat. no. 6202.0, ABS, Canberra.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006, Persons Not In The Labour Force, September 2005, cat. no. 6220.0, ABS, Canberra.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006, Underutilised Labour, in Year Book Australia 2006, cat. no. 1301.0, ABS, Canberra.


Productivity Commission 2004, Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia, Draft Research Report, Productivity Commission, Canberra.


Treasury 1999, Factors Influencing Medium-Term Employment Growth, in Economic Roundup Winter 1999, Australian Government, Canberra.


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