Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
1360.0 - Measuring Australia's Economy, 2003  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/02/2003   
   Page tools: Print Print Page RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Section 7. Labour Force and Demography >> Unemployment and Labour Force Participation

After the 1990-91 economic downturn, the unemployment rate remained at or near 10.7% in trend terms until October 1993. From late 1993 the rate declined steadily to stabilise around 8% from mid 1995 to the end of 1997. After falling relatively steadily to 6.1% in August 2000, by late 2001 the unemployment rate had risen to 6.9%. Since November 2001 the unemployment rate has been falling, to stand at 6.2% in August 2002.

For those seeking full-time work, the unemployment rate followed a similar pattern throughout the period since 1992, falling by 5.5 percentage points to reach 6.4% in August 2002. In contrast, despite short-run fluctuations, the part-time unemployment rate followed a general trend of slow decline.




LABOUR FORCE STATUS OF CIVILIAN POPULATION: PERSONS
Period
Unemployed

’000
Employed

’000
Labour
force

’000
Civilian population
aged 15+ years(a)

’000
Unemployment rate

%
Participation rate

%

TREND (AUGUST)
1997
755.2
8433.1
9188.4
14581.1
8.2
63.0
1998
726.7
8646.0
9372.7
14794.8
7.6
63.3
1999
651.1
8829.5
9480.6
15018.9
6.9
63.1
2000
592.4
9122.0
9714.4
15243.9
6.1
63.7
2001
675.0
9161.5
9836.4
15441.9
6.9
63.7

TREND (MONTHLY)
2001–02
September
676.7
9168.0
9844.7
15460.1
6.9
63.7
October
678.0
9181.1
9859.1
15478.9
6.9
63.7
November
677.6
9200.2
9877.7
15497.7
6.9
63.7
December
672.8
9222.4
9895.2
15516.5
6.8
63.8
January
663.9
9245.9
9909.8
15532.7
6.7
63.8
February
652.3
9266.2
9918.5
15548.8
6.6
63.8
March
640.6
9281.8
9922.4
15565.0
6.5
63.7
April
631.4
9292.3
9923.6
15585.6
6.4
63.7
May
625.7
9301.2
9926.9
15606.1
6.3
63.6
June
622.8
9311.5
9934.2
15626.7
6.3
63.6
2002–03
July
621.3
9324.2
9945.5
15647.3
6.2
63.6
August
620.2
9337.3
9957.5
15667.8
6.2
63.6

(a) Series is not trend. Original data provided.

Source: The Labour Force, Australia (6203.0).



Explanatory Notes

Broadly, the official unemployment data provided by the Labour Force Survey defines the unemployed as
  • persons who are not employed who are
  • actively looking for work and
  • are available to start work.

The employed, the unemployed and those not in the labour force are mutually exclusive measures of the population and its economic activity. The requirement that the employed work for one hour or more ensures that people looking for another job while employed are not wrongly included among the unemployed: that is, the unemployed are only measured among those without any work.

Unemployment estimates are an indicator of the degree of oversupply of labour. Changes in the level of oversupply can usefully be compared with changes in labour demand, expressed as employment plus job vacancies.

The unemployment rate is defined as the number of unemployed persons expressed as a percentage of the labour force (employed plus unemployed). This measure of labour under-utilisation is an important indicator of the performance of the economy. A high rate of unemployment indicates limited employment opportunities in an over-supplied labour market. A low rate of unemployment indicates a tight labour market, potential scarcity of skilled labour and possible future cost pressures from wage demands by workers.

The labour force participation rate is the labour force expressed as a percentage of the civilian population aged 15 years and over. It measures the proportion of the population who form the labour supply. The participation rate is an aid to monitoring changes in the size and composition of the labour supply.

Although turning points in the unemployment level, unemployment rate and participation rate series lag turning points in general economic activity, trends in these series over time serve as indicators of the performance of the economy at large. The personal characteristics of the unemployed can also be used to identify areas of social concern.

While the unemployment level and rate are well understood as formal measures of the labour supply, no single measure of unemployment can satisfy all the purposes for which such data are required. The ABS uses other data from the Labour Force Survey and its regular supplementary survey programme to form annual measures of underemployment and marginal attachment. These help to shed more light on under-use of the actual and potential labour supply.


Further Reading


Labour Force, Australia, Preliminary (6202.0)
Monthly. Estimates of employment, unemployment, unemployment rate and labour force participation rate, classified by State and Territory, sex, age, school and tertiary attendance, full-time/part-time status. On the ABS web site, see Statistics - Employment and unemployment.

Also see the Labour Force Framework reading list.

Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.