6291.0.55.003 - Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, Nov 2015 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/12/2015   
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VOLUME MEASURES OF LABOUR UNDERUTILISATION FROM THE LABOUR FORCE SURVEY

There are generally two approaches for analysing data related to labour underutilisation - headcount (number of people) and volume measures (based on hours). While headline measures of unemployment and underemployment usually relate to headcounts, the hours measures provide further information important for analysing the labour market.

Specifically, volume measures relate to the unused potential hours of labour in comparison to the hours usually worked by employed people. They are relevant for analysing the spare capacity of the labour force, as they take into account the number of hours sought and additional hours preferred by individuals whose labour is not fully utilised.

As of August 2014, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) has obtained information every three months on the volume of potential labour relating to unemployment and underemployment. This requirement was identified in the review of Labour Force statistics, as detailed in Outcomes of the Labour Household Surveys Content Review (cat. no. 6107.0).

Prior to this, volume measures of labour underutilisation were available in Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0). These measures were constructed on an annual basis using the following data:

  • Data from Job Search Experience, Australia (cat. no. 6222.0), used to determine the number of hours of work sought by unemployed people;
  • Data from Underemployed Workers, Australia (cat. no. 6265.0), used to determine additional hours preferred for people working part-time;
  • Data on potential hours of full-time underemployed people from the LFS.

As these data were previously collected annually in July and September respectively, factors from these supplementary survey data were applied to August LFS data, and volume measures were constructed in respect of August of each year.

The new data on volume measures are available from the November 2015 issue of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly publication (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003) in tables 23a and 23b.

Comparisons of the new LFS data to the previously constructed data from Australian Labour Market Statistics is shown in the graphs below. They show the percentage of underutilised hours that are available to the labour market, from unemployed and underemployed people. While unemployed people only account for around a third of the headcount measure, they contribute more than half of the underutilised hours in the labour market (given they currently have less than one hour of work, whereas underemployed people have some hours of work and therefore less potential for additional work).

VOLUME RATES, COMPARISON OF OLD AND NEW DATA

Graph showing volume rates of underutilisation

VOLUME OF HOURS LOST, COMPARISON OF OLD AND NEW DATA

Graph showing volume of hours lost