6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Dec 2017 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/01/2018   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY DECEMBER 2017


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

Australia's trend estimate of employment increased by 25,000 persons in December 2017, with:

  • the number of unemployed persons increasing by 100 persons;
  • the unemployment rate decreasing by less than 0.1 percentage points to 5.4 per cent;
  • the participation rate remaining steady at 65.5 per cent; and
  • the employment to population ratio increasing to 62.0 per cent.

Over the past year, trend employment increased by 393,400 persons (or 3.3 per cent). Over the same 12 month period the trend employment to population ratio, which is a measure of how employed the population (aged 15 years and over) is, increased by 1.0 percentage points to 62.0 per cent, the highest rate since October 2011.

In monthly terms, trend employment increased by 25,000 persons between November and December 2017. This represents an increase of 0.20 per cent, which is above the monthly average growth rate over the past 20 years of 0.16 per cent.

Trend full-time employment increased by 16,600 persons in December, and part-time employment increased by 8,400 persons. Compared to a year ago, there are 321,600 more persons employed full-time and 71,800 more persons employed part time. The part-time share of employment decreased 0.4 percentage points over the past 12 months, from 32.0 per cent to 31.5 per cent.

The trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 4.0 million hours (or 0.23 per cent) in December 2017, to 1,738.4 million hours. Monthly hours worked increased by 3.6 per cent over the past year, slightly above the increase in employed persons. As a result, the average hours worked per employed person also increased slightly, to around 140.0 hours per month, or around 32.3 hours per week.

The trend unemployment rate decreased by less than 0.1 percentage points to 5.4 per cent in December 2017, after the November 2017 number was revised up to 5.5 per cent. The number of unemployed persons was largely unchanged, increasing by 100. The trend unemployment rate is now at its lowest point since January 2013.

The trend participation rate remained at 65.5 per cent in December 2017, after the November 2017 number was revised up, and remained at the highest point since March 2011. The trend female participation rate climbed to a further historical high of 60.4 per cent.

The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed persons. Over the past year, the labour force has increased by 375,000 persons (2.9 per cent). This rate of increase is above the rate of increase for the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (322,500 persons, or 1.6 per cent).

The trend participation rate for 15-64 year olds, which controls (in part) for the effects of an ageing population, remained steady at 77.9 per cent in December 2017. This is the highest rate recorded and indicates the 15-64 year old population is participating in the labour market at a record high level. The gap between male and female participation in this age range is now less than 10 percentage points, at 82.9 and 73.0 per cent, continuing the long term convergence.

The trend participation rate for 15-24 year olds remained steady for a third consecutive month at 67.3 per cent in December 2017. The unemployment rate for this group decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 12.2 per cent in December 2017 and decreased by 0.8 percentage points over the year.

The trend series smooths the more volatile seasonally adjusted estimates and provide the best measure of the underlying behaviour of the labour market.


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 34,700 persons from November to December 2017. The underlying composition of the net change was an increase of 15,100 persons in full-time employment and a 19,500 increase in part-time employment. Since December 2016, full-time employment has increased by 303,400 persons, while part-time employment has increased by 99,700 persons.

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 4.2 million hours in December 2017 to 1,736.4 million hours. This follows an increase of 9.8 million hours from October to November.

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio increased 0.1 per cent to 62.0 per cent in December 2017, representing an increase of 1.0 percentage points from the same time last year.

Graph 1, Employment to population ratio, Persons, December 2007 to December 2017
Graph: Graph 1, Employment to population ratio, Persons, December 2007 to December 2017


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 5.5 per cent in December 2017. The participation rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 65.7 per cent.


STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

In December 2017, increases in trend employment were observed in all states and territories except for South Australia where employment decreased by 200. The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 11,500 persons) and Victoria (up 5,600 persons).

Similarly, over the past year, increases in employment were also observed in all states and territories except Northern Territory (down 3,900 persons). The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 134,100), Queensland (up 108,900 persons) and Victoria (up 95,000 persons). The highest annual employment growth rates were in Queensland and Australian Capital Territory (4.6 per cent), followed by New South Wales (3.5 per cent).

An increase in the trend unemployment rate was seen in the Northern Territory (up 0.3 percentage points) and Western Australia (up 0.1 percentage points), while a decrease was recorded in the Australian Capital Territory (down 0.1 percentage points). The unemployment rate was unchanged in all other states.

The largest increase in the trend participation rate was in the Northern Territory (up 0.5 percentage points), followed by Australian Capital Territory (up 0.3 percentage points).


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in New South Wales (up 14,300 persons), followed by Western Australia (up 6,100 persons). The largest decrease was observed in Victoria (down 3,900).

The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was in Victoria (up 0.6 percentage points, after two consecutive falls in October and November), followed by Tasmania (up 0.4 percentage points). Western Australia recorded the largest decrease in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (down 0.9 percentage points, after two consecutive increases in October and November), followed by South Australia (down 0.2 percentage points).

The seasonally adjusted participation rate increased in Tasmania (up 0.4 percentage points) and also New South Wales and Victoria (both up 0.3 percentage points). The largest decrease was in Western Australia (down 0.3 percentage points).

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.

Table 1, Unemployment rate, States and Territories

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
November
December
November
December
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
4.7
4.7
4.6
4.8
Victoria
5.8
5.8
5.5
6.1
Queensland
5.9
5.9
5.9
6.0
South Australia
5.9
5.9
6.1
5.9
Western Australia
6.1
6.1
6.6
5.7
Tasmania
5.9
6.0
5.7
6.1
Northern Territory
4.9
5.2
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
3.9
3.7
np
np
Australia
5.5
5.4
5.4
5.5

np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated