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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2007   
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Contents >> Labour >> Labour force

LABOUR FORCE

The labour force represents the key official measure of the total supply of labour available to the labour market during a given short reference period. It represents the labour available for the production of economic goods and services. Therefore, people in the labour force are also referred to as the 'currently economically active population'.

The Australian labour force framework classifies people into three mutually exclusive categories: employed; unemployed; and not in the labour force. The employed and unemployed categories together make up the labour force, which gives a measure of the number of people contributing to, or willing to contribute to, the supply of labour. The third category (not in the labour force) represents the currently inactive population. This framework is illustrated in diagram 6.2. Further details about the Australian labour force framework, and the specific criteria for classifying people to these three basic categories, are available in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (6102.0.55.001).

For the purpose of compiling Australian labour force statistics, the population is restricted to people in the civilian population aged 15 years and over. This practice is consistent with international guidelines for the collection of labour statistics.

6.2 AUSTRALIAN LABOUR FORCE FRAMEWORK(a)

6.2 AUSTRALIAN LABOUR FORCE FRAMEWORK(a) 6.2 AUSTRALIAN LABOUR FROCE FRAMEWORK

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LABOUR FORCE

The size and composition of the labour force are constantly changing. Changes in the size of the labour force are caused by changes in labour force participation as well as changes in the size and composition of the adult population. Between June 2005 and June 2006 the labour force grew by 1.7%. During the same period the civilian population aged 15 years and over grew by 1.4%. The difference between these two rates reflects an increase in the labour force participation rate over this period.

The labour force participation rate is one of the most important indicators for analysing the overall level of labour market activity. The participation rate is calculated by dividing the total number of people in the labour force by the total number of people in the civilian population aged 15 years and over. Analysis of participation rates, particularly by age, sex and family type, provides the basis for monitoring changes in the size and composition of the labour supply.

During the last two decades the overall labour force participation rate has increased slowly, rising from 61.4% in 1985-86 to 64.5% in 2005-06. This long-term rise in the labour force participation rate has been driven by an increase in the female participation rate. The female participation rate increased from 47.4% in 1985-86 to 57.2% in 2005-06. In contrast, the male participation rate fell from 75.9% to 72.1% over the same period. Graph 6.3 shows male and female participation rates between 1985-86 and 2005-06, and illustrates the convergence of male and female participation rates over this period.

6.3 LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES(a) 6.3 LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES(a)

Underlying these contrasting trends in male and female participation rates are varying movements in the age-specific participation rates. As shown in table 6.4, male and female participation rates are similar in the 15-19 year age group. Participation rates for men and women then rise as young people move from education and training to employment. For men, participation rates peak in the 25-34 and 35-44 year age groups, while female participation rates peak in the 20-24 year age group.

A comparison of age-specific participation rates for women between 1985-86 and 2005-06 indicates more women are participating in the labour force during their peak child-bearing years (the 25-34 year age group). In 1985-86, the participation rate for women aged 25-34 years was 59.3%. However, by 2005-06 this had increased to 72.5%.

Participation rates for men declined between 1985-86 and 2005-06 for almost all age groups. The exceptions were men aged 55-64 years (62.0% to 67.0%) and men aged 65 years and over (8.9% to 11.9%).

6.4 LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES(a), By age

Males
Females


1985-86
2005-06
1985-86
2005-06
Age group (years)
%
%
%
%

15-19
61.4
58.8
60.0
61.3
20-24
90.4
85.5
74.9
77.9
25-34
94.8
91.4
59.3
72.5
35-44
94.7
91.4
63.1
73.6
45-54
89.9
88.1
52.2
75.9
55-64
62.0
67.0
20.8
46.1
65 and over
8.9
11.9
2.4
4.2
Total
75.9
72.1
47.4
57.2

(a) Annual averages.
Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (6291.0.55.001).


Table 6.5 shows changes in labour force status between 2001-02 and 2005-06. During this period the total number of people employed grew by 9.8% to 10 million. This comprised an increase of 8.9% in the level of full-time employment and an increase of 12.1% in the level of part-time employment. Part-time employed people now account for 29% of all employed people. Women dominate the part-time workforce, accounting for 72% of part-time workers.


The unemployment rate fell from 6.7% in 2001-02 to 5.1% in 2005-06. The unemployment rate for women was higher than for men in 2005-06 (5.2% compared with 5.0%).

6.5 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a)

Employed
Unemployed


Full time
Part time
Total
Full time
Part time
Total
Labour
force
Civilian
population
Unemployment
rate
Participation
rate
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
%
%

MALES

2001-02
4,369.4
732.6
5,101.9
317.6
64.7
382.3
5,484.2
7,610.8
7.0
72.1
2002-03
4,425.6
768.3
5,193.9
285.6
63.6
349.2
5,543.1
7,731.4
6.3
71.7
2003-04
4,526.8
781.7
5,308.5
259.1
57.2
316.3
5,624.8
7,854.7
5.6
71.6
2004-05
4,630.1
808.1
5,438.2
231.5
60.6
292.1
5,730.3
7,980.5
5.1
71.8
2005-06
4,724.6
818.7
5,543.3
229.8
61.6
291.3
5,834.6
8,094.3
5.0
72.1

FEMALES

2001-02
2,225.3
1,840.9
4,066.2
182.1
99.0
281.0
4,347.3
7,892.2
6.5
55.1
2002-03
2,276.5
1,924.2
4,200.7
176.7
98.5
275.2
4,475.9
8,007.3
6.1
55.9
2003-04
2,313.6
1,937.4
4,251.0
170.8
98.9
269.7
4,520.6
8,132.2
6.0
55.6
2004-05
2,411.7
1,994.8
4,406.5
156.9
96.6
253.5
4,660.0
8,246.8
5.4
56.5
2005-06
2,455.8
2,066.8
4,522.5
150.5
97.7
248.1
4,770.7
8,347.1
5.2
57.2

PERSONS

2001-02
6,594.7
2,573.4
9,168.1
499.6
163.7
663.3
9,831.5
15,503.0
6.7
63.4
2002-03
6,702.1
2,692.5
9,394.5
462.3
162.1
624.4
10,018.9
15,738.7
6.2
63.7
2003-04
6,840.3
2,719.1
9,559.5
430.0
156.0
586.0
10,145.5
15,986.9
5.8
63.5
2004-05
7,041.8
2,802.9
9,844.7
388.4
157.2
545.6
10,390.3
16,227.3
5.3
64.0
2005-06
7,180.4
2,885.4
10,065.8
380.2
159.3
539.5
10,605.3
16,441.4
5.1
64.5

(a) Annual averages.
Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (6291.0.55.001).


Labour force participation, employment and unemployment vary across states and territories, and across capital cities and regional areas. Table 6.6 shows labour force status by state/territory and capital city/balance of state for 2005-06.


The Australian Capital Territory had the highest participation rate (72.3%) and lowest unemployment rate (3.2%) of all the states and territories. Tasmania had the lowest participation rate (61.0%) and the highest unemployment rate (6.5%).

In New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, the capital cities had lower unemployment rates and higher participation rates than the balance of state. However, both Adelaide and Perth had higher unemployment rates than the balance of state.


6.6 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), By state and territory - 2005-06

Capital city/balance
of state
Employed
full time
Total
employed
Unemployed
Labour
force
Civilian population
aged 15 and over
Unemployment
rate
Participation
rate
’000
’000
’000
’000
’000
%
%

Sydney
1,591.6
2,151.3
103.5
2,254.8
3,462.6
4.6
65.1
Balance of New South Wales
762.1
1,110.3
79
1,189.4
2,012.3
6.6
59.1
New South Wales
2,353.0
3,261.6
182.6
3,444.2
5,474.9
5.3
62.9
Melbourne
1,319.5
1,849.5
96.6
1,946.0
2,983.4
5.0
65.2
Balance of Victoria
443.1
644.9
43.8
688.7
1,113.1
6.4
61.9
Victoria
1,762.6
2,494.3
140.4
2,634.7
4,096.5
5.3
64.3
Brisbane
678.3
941.5
45.9
987.3
1,456.7
4.6
67.8
Balance of Queensland
761.9
1,063.4
59.0
1,122.4
1,724.2
5.3
65.1
Queensland
1,440.2
2,004.9
104.9
2,109.8
3,180.8
5.0
66.3
Adelaide
377.2
547.8
31.3
579.1
934.1
5.4
62.0
Balance of South Australia
135.6
195.7
8.2
203.9
328.3
4.0
62.1
South Australia
512.8
743.5
39.5
783.0
1,262.5
5.0
62.0
Perth
544.8
775.5
33.3
808.7
1,205.0
4.1
67.1
Balance of Western Australia
203.5
283.0
11.5
294.5
421.8
3.9
69.8
Western Australia
748.3
1,058.4
44.8
1,103.2
1,626.8
4.1
67.8
Hobart
63.8
95.7
5.9
101.5
165.5
5.8
61.3
Balance of Tasmania
87.1
127.6
9.6
137.2
225.7
7.0
60.8
Tasmania
151
223.3
15.4
238.7
391.2
6.5
61.0
Northern Territory
76.5
98.0
5.9
103.9
148.6
5.7
69.9
Australian Capital Territory
135.3
181.8
6.1
187.8
260.0
3.2
72.3
Australia
7,180.4
10,065.8
539.5
10,605.3
16,441.4
5.1
64.5

(a) Annual averages.
Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (6291.0.55.001).


In 2005-06 there were 10.6 million people in the Australian labour force, of whom 25% were born overseas (table 6.7). The labour force participation rate of people born overseas was 58.6% compared with 68.2% for people born in Australia. People born in main-English speaking countries (United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa) participated in the labour force at a higher rate than those born in other countries (64.8% compared with 55.0%). The unemployment rate for people born in main-English speaking countries (3.9%) was lower than that for both people born in Australia (5.0%) and people born in other than main-English speaking countries (6.1%).


6.7 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), By birthplace(b) - 2005-06

Employed
full time
Total
employed
Unemployed
Labour
force
Not in the
labour force
Unemployment
rate
Participation
rate
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
%
%

Born in Australia
5,321.0
7,551.3
401.3
7,952.6
3,709.9
5.0
68.2
Born overseas
1,859.5
2,514.5
138.2
2,652.7
1,870.4
5.2
58.6
Main-English speaking
countries
793.2
1,056.5
42.8
1,099.2
598.0
3.9
64.8
Other than main-English
speaking countries
1,066.3
1,458.0
95.4
1,553.5
1,272.3
6.1
55.0
Total
7,180.4
10,065.8
539.5
10,605.3
5,580.2
5.1
64.5

(a) Annual averages.
(b) Excludes persons in institutions.
Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (6291.0.55.001).


Table 6.8 provides an overview of the labour force status of people at June 2006, according to the family relationship within the household. For couple families with dependants present, 85% of husbands (or male partners) were employed full time compared with 27% of wives (or female partners). A further 38% of wives were employed part time. Just over half (52%) of male lone parents with dependants were employed full time compared with 24% of female lone parents with dependants. The unemployment rates for husbands and wives were lower than for all other groups of males and females.


6.8 LABOUR FORCE STATUS, By relationship in household - June 2006

Employed
full time
Total
employed
Unemployed
Labour
force
Not
in the
labour
force
Civilian
population
aged 15
and over
Unemployment
rate
Participation
rate
’000
’000
’000
’000
’000
’000
%
%

MALES

Family member
3,891.4
4,573.5
201.5
4,775.0
1,624.1
6,399.1
4.2
74.6
Husband or partner
3,209.0
3,563.8
88.3
3,652.0
1,154.6
4,806.6
2.4
76.0
With dependants
1,822.5
1,949.7
49.9
1,999.6
152.5
2,152.0
2.5
92.9
Without dependants
1,386.5
1,614.1
38.4
1,652.5
1,002.1
2,654.6
2.3
62.2
Lone parent
73.6
88.2
9.3
97.5
41.6
139.1
9.5
70.1
With dependants
44.0
56.2
6.9
63.1
21.2
84.3
10.9
74.8
Without dependants
29.6
32.0
2.4
34.4
20.3
54.7
7.0
62.8
Dependent student
12.0
199.4
31.5
230.9
267.4
498.3
13.7
46.3
Non-dependent child(a)
516.2
621.4
61.9
683.4
102.9
786.2
9.1
86.9
Other family person
80.6
100.7
10.5
111.2
57.7
168.9
9.5
65.8
Non-family member
689.4
831.9
57.9
889.8
418.7
1,308.5
6.5
68.0
Lone person
429.2
501.2
41.1
542.2
329.9
872.1
7.6
62.2
Not living alone
260.2
330.8
16.8
347.6
88.8
436.4
4.8
79.6
Relationship in household
not determined
155.2
195.8
13.8
209.7
231.2
440.9
6.6
47.6
Total
4,736.0
5,601.3
273.2
5,874.5
2,274.0
8,148.5
4.7
72.1

FEMALES

Family member
1,945.0
3,810.7
203.2
4,014.0
2,563.6
6,577.6
5.1
61.0
Wife or partner
1,431.8
2,731.3
88.9
2,820.2
1,849.4
4,669.6
3.2
60.4
With dependants
569.3
1,361.0
51.4
1,412.3
666.0
2,078.3
3.6
68.0
Without dependants
862.5
1,370.4
37.5
1,407.9
1,183.4
2,591.3
2.7
54.3
Lone parent
178.8
353.3
47.3
400.6
296.5
697.1
11.8
57.5
With dependants
119.9
269.4
43.2
312.6
182.0
494.6
13.8
63.2
Without dependants
58.9
83.9
4.1
88.0
114.5
202.5
4.7
43.5
Dependent student
6.2
263.1
30.2
293.3
238.9
532.2
10.3
55.1
Non-dependent child(a)
270.6
375.1
30.0
405.1
63.2
468.3
7.4
86.5
Other family person
57.5
87.9
6.8
94.7
115.7
210.4
7.2
45.0
Non-family member
444.5
625.6
29.9
655.5
698.2
1,353.6
4.6
48.4
Lone person
299.7
413.5
17.6
431.1
616.1
1,047.2
4.1
41.2
Not living alone
144.9
212.1
12.3
224.4
82.0
306.4
5.5
73.2
Relationship in household
not determined
97.2
160.2
8.7
168.9
294.9
463.8
5.2
36.4
Total
2,486.8
4,596.5
241.9
4,838.4
3,556.6
8,395.0
5.0
57.6

PERSONS

Family member
5,836.4
8,384.3
404.7
8,789.0
4,187.7
12,976.7
4.6
67.7
Husband, wife or partner
4,640.8
6,295.1
177.1
6,472.3
3,004.0
9,476.2
2.7
68.3
With dependants
2,391.8
3,310.7
101.3
3,411.9
818.4
4,230.4
3.0
80.7
Without dependants
2,249.1
2,984.5
75.9
3,060.3
2,185.5
5,245.8
2.5
58.3
Lone parent
252.4
441.5
56.6
498.1
338.1
836.1
11.4
59.6
With dependants
163.9
325.6
50.1
375.6
203.3
578.9
13.3
64.9
Without dependants
88.5
115.9
6.5
122.4
134.8
257.2
5.3
47.6
Dependent student
18.3
462.5
61.7
524.3
506.3
1,030.5
11.8
50.9
Non-dependent child(a)
786.9
996.5
92.0
1,088.5
166.0
1,254.5
8.4
86.8
Other family person
138.1
188.6
17.3
205.9
173.4
379.3
8.4
54.3
Non-family member
1,133.9
1,457.5
87.8
1,545.3
1,116.9
2,662.1
5.7
58.0
Lone person
728.9
914.6
58.7
973.3
946.0
1,919.3
6.0
50.7
Not living alone
405.1
542.9
29.1
572.0
170.9
742.8
5.1
77.0
Relationship in household
not determined
252.4
356.0
22.6
378.6
526.1
904.7
6.0
41.8
Total
7,222.8
10,197.8
515.1
10,712.9
5,830.7
16,543.5
4.8
64.8

(a) Aged 15 years and over.
Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (6291.0.55.001).


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