Australian Bureau of Statistics
1307.6 - Tasmanian State and Regional Indicators, Dec 2008
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/01/2009
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The Labour Force Explained
Changes to the Labour Market
In October 2008 trend labour force estimates indicated that Tasmania was experiencing the lowest unemployment rate and the highest participation rate on record. This was largely due to the high proportion of people employed part-time, particularly females. The unemployment rate in trend terms fell to an historic low of 3.7%, marking the lowest level of unemployment since the current series began in 1978. It was also the fourth consecutive month that Tasmania had recorded an unemployment rate below that of the national rate (4.3% in October 2008), and the first time since 1980 that Tasmania had experienced a sustained period of unemployment at a consistently lower rate than the national average.
THE LABOUR FORCE EXPLAINED
The labour force includes all people aged 15 years and over who are employed or unemployed. To be classified as employed, a person must have worked for one hour or more during the reference week, on either a full-time, part-time, temporary or casual basis. They qualify as being employed if they:
People aged 15 years and over who are neither employed nor unemployed are classified as being not in the labour force. This includes people who are retired, pensioners and people engaged solely in home duties.
Tasmania has experienced a marked decline in unemployment over the last 15 years, from a high of 12.5% in August 1993 to the record low in October 2008 (3.7%). During the same period, the unemployment rate for Australia has also been in steady decline, falling from 10.7% to 4.3%.
Prior to 1990, females in Tasmania traditionally had a higher unemployment rate than males. However, this trend has been reversed over recent decades, as the participation rate for females has correspondingly increased.
Australia has a high labour force participation rate by international standards. Labour force participation is important for the economic wellbeing of a community, and also for the individuals within it. Participation in the labour force can help to boost self esteem as well as improve financial security and social connectedness.
Despite the participation rate in Tasmania being at a record high (60.9%) in October 2008, in the 2007-08 financial year Tasmania had the lowest participation rate of all the states and territories (65.2% for Australia). This can be largely attributed to the older population profile of the state. According to the 2006 Census, 14.9% of Tasmania's population were aged 65 years and over, compared with 13.3% for Australia, and only 7.0% of Tasmanians aged 65 years and over were reported to be in the labour force. Most people in this age group were retired and as such would be classified as not participating in the labour force.
Additionally, Tasmania had the lowest retention rate (65.3%) of students progressing from Year 10 to Year 12 (75.6% for Australia). This may also be impacting on levels of participation in the labour force. People may lack the necessary skills and qualifications required for the jobs that are available. Working to improve school retention rates and encouraging the pursuit of non-school qualifications will be essential to maintaining and further expanding a skilled and adaptive workforce in Tasmania.
CHANGES TO THE LABOUR MARKET
The labour market is far more dynamic than ever before. There is greater mobility as people, particularly younger people, choose to experience several different jobs in their lifetime rather than commit to a single job for life. Females are more likely to work part-time, and as a result, generally have a higher rate of underemployment than males.
Female participation has increased, as has the flexibility of employment conditions and arrangements. Workplaces are generally more responsive to the needs of their employees in their quest to improve their work/life balance. This could be attributed to the increased number of females in the labour force balancing family responsibilities with their work.
As a result of these more flexible working arrangements and lifestyle choices, a greater proportion of people are now employed on a casual or part-time basis, while the proportion of people employed full-time has decreased steadily over the last few decades.
In 2007-08, Tasmania had the highest proportion of people employed part-time with almost one third (31.1%) of the total employed being part-time, compared with 28.4% for Australia.
In 2007-08, females employed part-time represented almost one quarter (22.4%) of the total persons employed in Tasmania. Males employed part-time represented 8.8% of all employed persons. This contrasted markedly to the situation of 20 years ago, when females employed part-time in 1987/88 represented 17.4% and males 3.9% respectively.
Males employed full-time in 2007-08 represented less than half (46.1%) of the total persons employed, while females represented 22.8%. In 1987-88, males employed full-time represented 56.8% of all employed persons, while females represented 21.8%.
Casual employment has been a growth area in recent years. It can provide greater flexibility for balancing work, family, study and other commitments, but casual employees may not necessarily receive the same entitlements as their full-time, on-going colleagues. They may not have access to training or career advancement opportunities. Similarly, casual or part-time employees may encounter barriers to full-time employment such as lacking the necessary skills or experience for the jobs available or the jobs available may lack the flexibility required to accommodate their caring responsibilities. Removing such barriers will become increasingly important in attracting and retaining staff as the population continues to age.
Refer ABS Themes Page - Labour - Using Labour Statistics
Australian Labour Market Statistics (ABS cat. no. 6105.0)
Australian Social Trends, 2008 (ABS cat. no. 4102.0)
Labour Force, Australia, Spreadsheets, October 2008 (ABS cat. no. 6202.0.55.001)
Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (ABS cat. no. 6291.0.55.003)
Labour Mobility (ABS cat no. 6209.0)
Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2006 (ABS cat. no. 6102.00.55.001)
Persons Not in the Labour Force (ABS cat. no. 6220.0)
Schools, Australia (ABS cat. no. 4221.0)
Standards for Social, Labour and Demographic Variables (ABS cat. no. 1200.0)
Underemployed Workers (ABS cat. no. 6265.0)
Yearbook Australia, 2008 (ABS cat. no. 1301.0)
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This page last updated 29 April 2009