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6220.0 - Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia, Sep 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/03/2006   
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NOTES


ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This publication presents information about people aged 15 years and over 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.


Statistics in this publication were obtained from the Persons Not in the Labour Force survey, conducted throughout Australia in September 2005 as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS).


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


Many people not in the labour force could be considered to have some attachment to the labour force. For example they may want a job, 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.



NOTES ABOUT THE ESTIMATES

The scope of the Persons Not in the Labour Force survey was expanded in September 2005 to include all people aged 15 years and over. Previously the scope was restricted to people aged 15-69 years. This change has resulted in an extra 1.6 million people coming within the scope of this survey. Users need to exercise care when comparing the estimates in this publication with previous publications. Direct comparisons should only be made where the populations are the same.



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 Market Section on Canberra (02) 6252 7206.



SUMMARY COMMENTARY


CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK


PERSONS NOT IN THE LABOUR FORCE AGED 15 YEARS AND OVER

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.
Diagram: CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR PERSONS NOT IN THE LABOUR FORCE AGED 15 YEARS AND OVER



SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


OVERVIEW

In September 2005, there were 5,453,500 people aged 15 years and over who were not in the labour force. This represented 34% of the civilian population aged 15 years and over. Just under one-quarter (21%) of persons not in the labour force wanted to work and 61% of persons not in the labour force were women.


The proportion of people 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 men and 38% for women. In all other age groups, there were more women than men not in the labour force. The proportion of women not in the labour force decreased from 27% for those aged 25-34 years to 23% for those aged 45-54 years, before increasing sharply to 43% for those aged 55-59 years, and 98% for those aged 70 years and over. For men in the same age groups, the proportion not in the labour force increased from 7% for those aged 25-34 and 35-44 years, to 11% for those aged 45-54 years, 24% for those aged 55-59 years, and 93% for those aged 70 years and over .

Persons not in the labour force, proportion of the civilian population
Graph: Persons not in the labour force, proportion of the civilian population




MARGINAL ATTACHMENT

Of the 840,300 people with marginal attachment to the labour force in September 2005, 771,100 or 92% 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 17% of women and 13% of men not in the labour force were marginally attached to the labour force. Seventy two per cent of women with marginal attachment to the labour force would have preferred part-time work, while 16% preferred full-time work. For men, 49% preferred part-time work and 34% preferred full-time work. The remainder had no preference, or were undecided.


Approximately 59% of people with marginal attachment to the labour force 'intended to enter' the labour force within 12 months, 18% 'might enter' the labour force within 12 months, and 19% 'did not intend to enter' the labour force within 12 months


Of those with marginal attachment to the labour force, 80% previously had a job. Thirty two per cent of those who had a job stated that their last job was less than 12 months ago, and 21% reported their last job was between 1 and 3 years ago.


Main reason for not actively looking for work

The main reasons for not actively looking for work most commonly reported by men were 'attending an educational institution' (34%) and 'own ill health or physical disability' (20%). The most commonly reported main reasons for not actively looking for work for women were 'caring for children' (31%) and 'attending an educational institution' (18%).


Discouraged job seekers

At September 2005 there were 63,100 discouraged job seekers aged 15 years and over. There was a 23% decline in the number of discouraged job seekers aged 15-69, from 82,000 in September 2004 to 59,300 in September 2005. Women accounted for most of this decrease, with 53,600 women who were discouraged job seekers in September 2004 and 37,500 in September 2005.


The characteristics of discouraged job seekers aged 15 years and over in September 2005 included:

  • 61% were women
  • 29% of men and 21% of women had looked for work in the previous 12 weeks.
  • 64% of men and 57% of women intended to enter the labour force in the next 12 months
  • 85% had worked before.

The main reasons reported by discouraged job seekers for not actively looking for work were 'considered too old by employers' (39%), 'no jobs in locality or line of work' (27%) and 'lacked necessary schooling, training, skills or experience' (14%). Fifty per cent of men gave the reason 'considered too old by employers' compared with 32% of women. For women, 29% gave the reason 'no jobs in locality or line of work' and 17% gave the reason 'lacked necessary schooling, training, skills or experience'.



PEOPLE WITHOUT MARGINAL ATTACHMENT

Of the 4,613,200 people aged 15 years and over who were without marginal attachment to the labour force in September 2005, the majority (88%) were people who did not want to work, while a further 5% were permanently unable to work. Of those people who did not want to work, 38% (31% of women, 50% of men) reported their main activity as 'retired or voluntarily inactive', 28% (41% of women, 7% of men) as 'home duties or caring for children', and 12% (9% of women, 16% of men) as 'attending an educational institution'.


There were 325,000 people who wanted to work but were neither actively looking for work nor available to start work within four weeks. Of these, 69% were women, forty-four per cent reported their main activity as 'home duties or caring for children' and 28% as 'attending an educational institution'. Twenty-eight per cent reported that they had a job less than 12 months ago.


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