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6220.0 - Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia, Sep 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/03/2004   
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ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This publication presents information about persons aged 15-69 years who are not in the labour force: that is, neither employed nor unemployed. The data measure the potential supply of labour not reflected in employment and unemployment statistics.

Many people not in the labour force could be considered to have some attachment to the labour force. They would like to work, but for a variety of reasons are not actively looking for work or are not currently available to start a job. There is an expectation that many of these people will move into the labour force in the short term, or could do so if labour market conditions changed.

The conceptual framework which follows separates persons not in the labour force into more detailed categories, depending on the strength of their attachment to the labour force.

Statistics in this publication were obtained from the Persons Not in the Labour Force Survey, conducted throughout Australia in September 2003 as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) monthly Labour Force Survey.

This survey provides information about persons aged 15-69 years who were not in the labour force. The survey collected details about whether they wanted to work, about reasons why they were not actively looking for work, about their availability for work, and about their main activity while not in the labour force.

ROUNDING

As estimates have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.

Inquiries

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Labour Force and Supplementary Surveys section on Canberra (02) 6252 7206.


SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

PERSONS NOT IN THE LABOUR FORCE

The civilian population aged 15-69 years can be split into two mutually exclusive groups: the labour force (employed and unemployed persons) and persons not in the labour force.

Persons not in the labour force can be divided into those who are marginally attached to the labour force, and those who are not. Persons who are marginally attached to the labour force may satisfy some, but not all, of the criteria required to be classified as unemployed.

Persons not in the labour force are considered to be marginally attached to the labour force if they:

  • want to work and are actively looking for work but are not available to start work in the reference week, or
  • want to work and are not actively looking for work but are available to start work within four weeks.

Persons not in the labour force are not marginally attached to the labour force if they:
  • do not want to work, or
  • want to work but are not actively looking for work and are not available to start work within four weeks.
Conceptual Framework diagram


OVERVIEW

In September 2003, there were 3,862,600 persons aged 15-69 years who were not in the labour force. This represented 28% of the civilian population, a proportion which has remained steady over the last few years. Just under one-third (31%) of persons not in the labour force wanted to work and almost two-thirds (64%) of persons not in the labour force were female.

The proportion of persons who were not in the labour force varied according to age. In the 15-19 years age group, where there are high levels of participation in education, the proportion was 41% for both males and females. In all other age groups, there were more females than males not in the labour force. The proportion of females who were not in the labour force remained steady at around 27% for those aged 25-54 years, before increasing sharply to 48% for those aged 55-59 years. For males, the proportion ranged from 8% to 12% for those aged 25-54 years, increasing to 25% for those aged 55-59 years.

Graph - Persons Not in the Labour Force, Proportion of the Civilian Population
MARGINAL ATTACHMENT

Of the 834,600 persons with marginal attachment to the labour force in September 2003, 775,500 or 93% were not actively looking for work but were available to start work within four weeks. The remainder were actively looking for work but were not available to start work in the reference week.

Some 23% of females and 19% of males not in the labour force were marginally attached to the labour force. Over two-thirds (68%) of females with marginal attachment to the labour force would have preferred part-time work, while 18% preferred full-time work. Males in this group were more evenly distributed, with 46% preferring part-time work and 37%preferring full-time work. The remainder had no preference, or were undecided.


Main reason for not actively looking for work

The reasons for not actively looking for work most commonly reported by males were 'attending an educational institution' (33%) and 'own ill health or physical disability' (19%). The most commonly reported reasons for females in this group were 'childcare' (30%) and 'attending an educational institution' (16%).


Discouraged jobseekers

At September 2003 there were 79,800 discouraged jobseekers. Characteristics of discouraged jobseekers in September 2003 include:
  • 67% were female
  • 43% of male and 28% of female discouraged jobseekers had looked for work in the previous 13 weeks
  • 78% of male and 67% of female discouraged jobseekers intended to enter the labour force in the next 12 months
  • 86% of discouraged jobseekers had worked before, with almost a third (30%) of males and 14% of females having had a job in the previous 12 months.

The main reasons reported by discouraged jobseekers for not actively looking for work were 'considered too young or too old by employers' (33%), 'no jobs in locality or line of work' (27%) and 'lacked necessary schooling, training, skills or experience' (23%). For female discouraged jobseekers, 26% gave the reason 'lacked necessary schooling, training, skills or experience', compared to 17% of males. Thirty-two per cent of males gave the reason 'no jobs in locality or line or work', compared to 25% of females. Forty percent of males gave the reason 'considered too young or too old by employers' compared with 30% of females.


PERSONS WITHOUT MARGINAL ATTACHMENT

Of the 3,028,000 persons who were without marginal attachment to the labour force in September 2003, the majority (81%) were persons who did not want to work, while a further 7% were permanently unable to work. Of those persons who did not want to work, 33% reported their main activity as 'home duties or childcare', 28% as 'retired or voluntarily inactive', and 19% as 'attending an educational institution'.

There were 378,400 persons who wanted to work but were neither actively looking for work nor available to start work within four weeks, and two-thirds (67%) of these were female. Forty-three per cent reported their main activity as 'home duties or childcare' and 28% as 'attending an educational institution'. Twenty-seven per cent of persons who wanted to work but were neither actively looking for work nor available to start work within four weeks reported that they had a job less than 12 months ago.

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