6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, May 2017 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/06/2017   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY MAY 2017


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

Australia's trend estimate of employment increased by 25,200 persons in May 2017, with:

  • the number of unemployed persons decreasing by 4,800 persons;
  • the unemployment rate remaining steady at 5.7 per cent;
  • the participation rate remaining steady at 64.8 per cent; and
  • the employment to population ratio increasing by 0.1 percentage points to 61.2 per cent.

Over the past year, trend employment increased by 194,200 persons (or 1.6 per cent), which is still below the average year-on-year growth over the past 20 years (1.8 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 less than 0.1 percentage points to 61.2 per cent.

In monthly terms, the trend employment increased by 25,200 persons between April 2017 and May 2017. This represents an increase of 0.21 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 19,300 persons in May, while part-time employment increased by 5,900 persons. Compared to a year ago, there are 98,800 more persons employed full-time and 95,300 more persons employed part time. The part-time share of employment has been relatively stable since August 2016, at 31.9 per cent.

The trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs increased slightly (by 2.9 million hours, or 0.18 per cent) in May 2017, to 1,677.7 million hours. Monthly hours worked increased by 1.49 per cent over the past year.

The trend unemployment rate remained steady at 5.7 per cent in May 2017 while the number of unemployed persons decreased by 4,800. The unemployment rate has been relatively stable, at around 5.7 to 5.8 per cent, for 18 months. The most recent period with similar stability was May 2007 to October 2008, when it remained at around 4.2 to 4.3 per cent.

The quarterly underemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 8.8 per cent in May 2017. Over the past year this rate increased by 0.4 percentage points, with the number of underemployed increasing by 64,100 persons. The quarterly underutilisation rate, which is combined measure of unemployment and underemployment in the labour force, was 14.5 per cent in May 2017.

Graph 1, Unemployment, Underemployment and Underutilisation Rates, May 2007 to May 2017
Graph: Graph 1, Unemployment, Underemployment and Underutilisation Rates, May 2007 to May 2017


The trend participation rate increased by less than 0.1 percentage points to remain at 64.8 per cent in May 2017.

The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed persons. Over the past year, the labour force increased by 199,700 persons (1.6 per cent). This rate of increase is the same as for the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (318,600 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, increased by less than 0.1 percentage points to 77.2 per cent in May 2017.

The trend participation rate for 15-24 year olds remained steady at 66.6 per cent in May 2017. Over the past year it decreased 0.7 percentage points. The unemployment rate for this group decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 12.8 per cent in May 2017 and increased by 0.2 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 42,000 persons from April to May 2017. The underlying composition of the net increase was an additional 52,100 persons in full-time employment and a 10,100 decrease in part-time employment. Since May 2016, full-time employment increased by 148,000 persons, while part-time employment increased by 84,800 persons.

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 31.1 million hours in May 2017 to 1,695.3 million hours. The increase over the past three months was an additional 33.0 million hours worked.

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio increased by 0.1 percentage points to 61.3 per cent in May 2017, representing an increase of 0.2 percentage points from the same time last year.

Graph 2, Employment to population ratio, Persons, May 2007 to May 2017
Graph: Graph 2, Employment to population ratio, Persons, May 2007 to May 2017


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points in May 2017 to 5.5 per cent. The labour force participation rate increased by less than 0.1 percentage points to 64.9 per cent.

The quarterly seasonally adjusted underemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 8.8 per cent. The quarterly underutilisation rate decreased 0.4 percentage points to 14.4 per cent.


STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

In May 2017, increases in trend employment were observed in all states and territories except for South Australia (down 300). The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 10,000 persons) and Victoria (up 8,400 persons).

Increases in employment were also observed in all states and territories over the past 12 months, with the largest increase in Victoria (up 103,900 persons), followed by Queensland (up 31,100 persons) and New South Wales (up 23,600 persons).

South Australia was the only state or territory with a month-on-month increase in its unemployment rate, up 0.1 percentage points to 7.1 per cent. The largest decrease was in Western Australia, down 0.2 percentage points to 5.8 per cent. Unemployment rates decreased in New South Wales, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory by 0.1 percentage points.

The quarterly trend underemployment rate increased in most states and territories, with the largest increases in Queensland and Western Australia (up 0.4 percentage points). Only Victoria and Tasmania recorded a decrease (both down 0.2 percentage points).

The trend participation rate increased in Tasmania (up 0.2 percentage points), Victoria and Queensland (up 0.1 percentage points). The participation rate for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory decreased by 0.1 percentage points.


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in New South Wales (up 32,600 persons), followed by Victoria (6,900 persons), and Queensland (5,500 persons).

The largest month-on-month decreases in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate were in South Australia and Western Australia (down 0.4 percentage points). The unemployment rate increased in Tasmania (up 0.2 percentage points) and New South Wales (up 0.1 percentage points).

The quarterly seasonally adjusted underemployment rate decreased in most states with the largest decreases in Tasmania (down 0.9 percentage points) and South Australia (down 0.8 percentage points). The Queensland underemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points.

The largest increases in the seasonally adjusted participation rate occurred in Tasmania (up 0.8 percentage points), while the largest decrease in the seasonally adjusted participation rate was observed in Western Australia (down 0.1 percentage points).

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.

Table 1, Unemployment rate, States and Territories

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
April
May
April
May
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
4.9
4.8
4.7
4.8
Victoria
6.1
6.1
6.1
6.0
Queensland
6.3
6.3
6.3
6.1
South Australia
7.0
7.1
7.3
6.9
Western Australia
5.9
5.8
5.9
5.5
Tasmania
5.9
5.9
5.9
6.1
Northern Territory
3.3
3.2
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
3.6
3.5
np
np
Australia
5.7
5.7
5.7
5.5

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