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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2008   
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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 8.2. 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.

8.2 Australian labour force framework(a)
Diagram: 8.2 Australian labour force framework(a)

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 2006 and June 2007 the labour force grew by 2.3%. During the same period the civilian population aged 15 years and over grew by 1.7%. The difference between these two growth 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 61.9% in 1986-87 to 64.8% in 2006-07. 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 48.7% in 1986-87 to 57.6% in 2006-07. In contrast, the male participation rate decreased from 75.6% to 72.2% over the same period. Graph 8.3 provides male and female participation rates between 1986-87 and 2006-07, and shows the convergence of male and female participation rates over this period.

8.3 Labour force participation rates(a)
Graph: 8.3 Labour force participation rates(a)

Underlying these trends in male and female participation rates are varying movements in the age-specific participation rates. As shown in table 8.4, male and female participation rates are similar in the age group 15-19 years. Participation rates for men and women rise as young people move from education and training to employment. For men, participation rates peak in the age groups 25-34 and 35-44 years, while female participation rates peak in the age group 20-24 years.A comparison of age-specific participation rates for women shows an increase in labour force participation across all age groups. While over the last 20 years there has been a considerable increase in the labour force participation of women in their peak child-bearing years (the age group 25-34 years), the largest gains have been in the participation of older women. During the last two decades, the participation rate of women aged 55-64 years increased by 26.5 percentage points and for women aged 45-54 years by 21.6 percentage points. For women aged 25-34 years the rate increased from 61.2% in 1986-87 to 72.5% in 2006-07.

Participation rates for men declined between 1986-87 and 2006-07 for almost all age groups. The exceptions were men aged 55-64 years (61.7% to 67.9%) and men aged 65 years and over (8.6% to 12.8%).

8.4 LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES(a),
By age

Males
Females
1986-87
2006-07
1986-87
2006-07
Age group (years)
%
%
%
%

15-19
60.6
58.2
59.8
61.0
20-24
90.5
85.7
76.1
78.1
25-34
95.0
92.1
61.2
72.5
35-44
94.5
91.1
65.2
74.5
45-54
89.8
88.5
55.0
76.6
55-64
61.7
67.9
21.9
48.4
65 and over
8.6
12.8
2.4
4.6
Total
75.6
72.2
48.7
57.6

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


During the period 2002-03 to 2006-07 the total number of people employed grew by 10.1% to 10.3 million (table 8.5). This comprised an increase of 10.2% in the level of full-time employment and an increase of 9.6% in the level of part-time employment. Part-time employed people represent more than a quarter (28%) of all employed people. Women dominate the part-time workforce, accounting for 71% of all part-time workers.

The unemployment rate fell from 6.1% in 2002-03 to 4.5% in 2006-07. The unemployment rate for women was higher than for men in 2006-07 (4.8% compared with 4.3%).


8.5 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

2002-03
4 429.0
764.2
5 193.2
281.2
62.9
344.1
5 537.3
7 731.4
6.2
71.6
2003-04
4 525.2
777.2
5 302.5
252.8
56.4
309.2
5 611.7
7 854.7
5.5
71.4
2004-05
4 630.0
802.4
5 432.3
230.2
59.5
289.7
5 722.0
7 980.5
5.1
71.7
2005-06
4 724.6
819.4
5 544.0
225.0
59.9
284.8
5 828.8
8 094.3
4.9
72.0
2006-07
4 829.1
862.4
5 691.5
200.6
53.2
253.8
5 945.3
8 229.9
4.3
72.2

FEMALES

2002-03
2 277.0
1 919.2
4 196.3
174.0
96.3
270.2
4 466.5
8 007.4
6.1
55.8
2003-04
2 319.0
1 934.9
4 253.9
166.8
96.7
263.5
4 517.3
8 132.2
5.8
55.6
2004-05
2 408.5
1 985.5
4 394.0
155.7
95.1
250.8
4 644.8
8 246.8
5.4
56.3
2005-06
2 458.0
2 062.3
4 520.3
147.1
95.2
242.3
4 762.7
8 347.1
5.1
57.1
2006-07
2 564.2
2 078.8
4 643.0
143.8
91.4
235.2
4 878.2
8 466.9
4.8
57.6

PERSONS

2002-03
6 706.0
2 683.4
9 389.5
455.2
159.2
614.4
10 003.8
15 738.7
6.1
63.6
2003-04
6 844.3
2 712.1
9 556.4
419.5
153.1
572.7
10 129.0
15 986.9
5.7
63.4
2004-05
7 038.5
2 787.9
9 826.4
385.8
154.7
540.5
10 366.9
16 227.3
5.2
63.9
2005-06
7 182.6
2 881.7
10 064.3
372.1
155.1
527.2
10 591.5
16 441.4
5.0
64.4
2006-07
7 393.3
2 941.2
10 334.6
344.4
144.6
489.0
10 823.5
16 696.8
4.5
64.8

(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 8.6 shows labour force status by state/territory and capital city/balance of state for 2006-07.

The Australian Capital Territory had the highest participation rate (73.6%) and lowest unemployment rate (3.0%) of all the states and territories. Tasmania had the lowest participation rate (60.3%) and the highest unemployment rate (5.7%).

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, Adelaide had a higher unemployment rate than the balance of South Australia and Perth had a lower participation rate than the balance of Western Australia.

8.6 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), By state and territory - 2006-07

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

Sydney
1 601.6
2 171.0
103.5
2 274.5
3 499.9
4.6
65.0
Balance of New South Wales
787.7
1 148.3
70.3
1 218.6
2 035.1
5.8
59.9
New South Wales
2 389.3
3 319.3
173.9
3 493.2
5 535.1
5.0
63.1
Melbourne
1 341.3
1 881.8
90.0
1 971.9
3 028.0
4.6
65.1
Balance of Victoria
467.0
676.6
38.4
715.1
1 130.5
5.4
63.3
Victoria
1 808.2
2 558.5
128.4
2 686.9
4 158.5
4.8
64.6
Brisbane
715.1
985.7
39.7
1 025.4
1 490.9
3.9
68.8
Balance of Queensland
811.1
1 113.6
47.6
1 161.1
1 765.6
4.1
65.8
Queensland
1 526.2
2 099.3
87.3
2 186.6
3 256.5
4.0
67.1
Adelaide
381.1
557.3
31.4
588.7
943.5
5.3
62.4
Balance of South Australia
137.8
198.5
8.5
207.0
331.8
4.1
62.4
South Australia
519.0
755.8
39.9
795.7
1 275.4
5.0
62.4
Perth
568.9
802.8
26.1
828.9
1 230.2
3.1
67.4
Balance of Western Australia
203.3
283.2
10.1
293.3
430.7
3.5
68.1
Western Australia
772.2
1 086.0
36.2
1 122.3
1 661.0
3.2
67.6
Hobart
67.1
98.5
5.1
103.6
166.9
4.9
62.1
Balance of Tasmania
87.0
126.0
8.4
134.4
227.6
6.3
59.0
Tasmania
154.1
224.5
13.5
238.0
394.5
5.7
60.3
Northern Territory
82.3
103.0
4.1
107.1
152.5
3.8
70.2
Australian Capital Territory
141.9
188.1
5.7
193.8
263.5
3.0
73.6
Australia
7 393.3
10 334.6
489.0
10 823.5
16 696.8
4.5
64.8

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


In 2006-07 there were 10.8 million people in the Australian labour force, of whom a quarter (25%) were born overseas (table 8.7). The labour force participation rate of people born overseas was 59.3% compared with 68.4% for people born in Australia.

8.7 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), By country of birth - 2006-07

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

Born in Australia
5 471.8
7 712.5
352.6
8 065.0
3 717.7
4.4
68.4
Born overseas
1 918.5
2 618.3
136.3
2 754.6
1 893.6
4.9
59.3
Oceania and Antarctica
289.3
364.7
16.5
381.2
118.1
4.3
76.4
North-west Europe
577.6
796.1
29.4
825.6
603.3
3.6
57.8
Southern and eastern Europe
237.8
325.4
13.5
338.8
478.8
4.0
41.4
North Africa and the Middle East
81.0
118.8
12.7
131.5
138.7
9.7
48.7
South-east Asia
264.9
349.0
22.7
371.7
185.4
6.1
66.7
North-east Asia
145.1
215.9
15.8
231.7
176.9
6.8
56.7
Southern and central Asia
141.6
196.6
13.2
209.8
87.5
6.3
70.6
Americas
87.6
125.4
6.5
131.9
53.5
5.0
71.2
Sub-Saharan Africa
93.6
126.4
6.0
132.3
51.5
4.5
72.0
Total(b)
7 393.3
10 334.6
489.0
10 823.5
5 873.3
4.5
64.8

(a) Annual averages.
(b) Includes persons in institutions and persons whose country of birth was not specified or was unable to be classified by the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 1998.
Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (6291.0.55.001).


Table 8.8 provides an overview of the labour force status of people, 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 28% of wives (or female partners). A further 38% of wives with dependants present were employed part time. More than half (55%) of male lone parents with dependants were employed full time compared with just over a quarter (26%) of female lone parents with dependants. The unemployment rates for husbands and wives were lower than for all other groups of men and women.


8.8 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), By relationship in household - 2006-07

Employed
full-time
Total
employed
Unem-
ployed
Labour
force
Not in the
labour
force
Civilian
population
aged 15
and over
Unemploy-
ment rate
Participation rate
’000
’000
’000
’000
’000
’000
%
%

MALES

Family member
3 952.9
4 634.6
189.7
4 824.3
1 655.5
6 479.8
3.9
74.5
Husband or partner
3 241.1
3 592.4
80.0
3 672.3
1 172.1
4 844.5
2.2
75.8
With dependants
1 803.5
1 936.3
43.7
1 980.0
142.7
2 122.6
2.2
93.3
Without dependants
1 437.7
1 656.1
36.3
1 692.4
1 029.5
2 721.8
2.1
62.2
Lone parent
75.8
88.5
7.1
95.7
49.8
145.4
7.5
65.8
With dependants
46.7
56.7
6.0
62.7
21.4
84.1
9.6
74.5
Without dependants
29.1
31.9
1.1
33.0
28.3
61.3
3.3
53.8
Dependent student
18.4
207.2
31.4
238.6
259.8
498.3
13.2
47.9
Non-dependent child(b)
535.2
644.3
62.3
706.6
112.8
819.5
8.8
86.2
Other family person
82.4
102.1
9.0
111.1
61.0
172.1
8.1
64.6
Non-family member
720.4
861.0
51.5
912.5
424.5
1 337.0
5.6
68.2
Lone person
463.1
537.1
31.9
569.0
334.4
903.4
5.6
63.0
Not living alone
257.3
323.9
19.6
343.5
90.1
433.7
5.7
79.2
Relationship in household
not determined
155.9
196.0
12.5
208.5
204.6
413.1
6.0
50.5
Total
4 829.1
5 691.5
253.8
5 945.3
2 284.6
8 229.9
4.3
72.2

FEMALES

Family member
2 021.2
3 866.9
195.3
4 062.2
2 596.0
6 658.2
4.8
61.0
Wife or partner
1 476.3
2 751.1
81.9
2 832.9
1 866.4
4 699.4
2.9
60.3
With dependants
569.3
1 344.9
44.5
1 389.4
662.5
2 051.9
3.2
67.7
Without dependants
907.0
1 406.2
37.3
1 443.5
1 203.9
2 647.5
2.6
54.5
Lone parent
185.6
362.8
40.4
403.2
313.6
716.7
10.0
56.2
With dependants
129.5
281.6
36.7
318.2
189.2
507.4
11.5
62.7
Without dependants
56.2
81.2
3.7
84.9
124.3
209.3
4.4
40.6
Dependent student
13.3
264.8
32.0
296.8
225.5
522.3
10.8
56.8
Non-dependent child(b)
286.5
398.9
34.4
433.3
73.1
506.4
7.9
85.6
Other family person
59.5
89.4
6.6
96.0
117.4
213.4
6.9
45.0
Non-family member
444.6
610.0
30.0
640.0
696.5
1 336.5
4.7
47.9
Lone person
301.3
403.6
17.7
421.3
616.8
1 038.1
4.2
40.6
Not living alone
143.3
206.4
12.3
218.7
79.7
298.4
5.6
73.3
Relationship in household
not determined
98.3
166.2
9.9
176.1
296.1
472.2
5.6
37.3
Total
2 564.2
4 643.0
235.2
4 878.2
3 588.7
8 466.9
4.8
57.6

PERSONS

Family member
5 974.1
8 501.5
385.0
8 886.5
4 251.5
13 138.0
4.3
67.6
Husband, wife or partner
4 717.5
6 343.4
161.8
6 505.3
3 038.6
9 543.8
2.5
68.2
With dependants
2 372.7
3 281.2
88.2
3 369.4
805.2
4 174.5
2.6
80.7
Without dependants
2 344.7
3 062.3
73.7
3 135.9
2 233.4
5 369.3
2.3
58.4
Lone parent
261.4
451.3
47.5
498.8
363.3
862.2
9.5
57.9
With dependants
176.1
338.2
42.7
380.9
210.7
591.6
11.2
64.4
Without dependants
85.3
113.1
4.8
117.9
152.7
270.6
4.1
43.6
Dependent student
31.7
472.0
63.4
535.4
485.3
1 020.6
11.8
52.5
Non-dependent child(b)
821.7
1 043.2
96.7
1 139.9
186.0
1 325.9
8.5
86.0
Other family person
141.9
191.5
15.6
207.1
178.4
385.5
7.5
53.7
Non-family member
1 165.0
1 470.9
81.5
1 552.5
1 121.0
2 673.5
5.3
58.1
Lone person
764.4
940.6
49.6
990.2
951.2
1 941.4
5.0
51.0
Not living alone
400.6
530.3
31.9
562.2
169.8
732.1
5.7
76.8
Relationship in household
not determined
254.2
362.2
22.4
384.6
500.7
885.3
5.8
43.4
Total
7 393.3
10 334.6
489.0
10 823.5
5 873.3
16 696.8
4.5
64.8

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





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