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6105.0 - Australian Labour Market Statistics, Apr 2011  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/04/2011   
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FEATURE ARTICLE: AGGREGATE MONTHLY HOURS WORKED: STATES AND TERRITORIES


INTRODUCTION

Aggregate monthly hours worked estimates measure the total number of hours worked by employed persons in a calendar month. They can be aggregated across time to produce quarterly and annual estimates. Seasonally adjusted and trend measures of hours worked are provided that allow direct comparison of hours worked across time. For more information, see Information Paper: Expansion of Hours Worked Estimates from the Labour Force Survey (cat. no 6290.0.55.001).

Aggregate monthly hours worked estimates were first released in August 2009, full- and part-time series were released in February 2010 and estimates by broad industry groups were released in March 2010. These series are available as both seasonally adjusted and trend estimates (for the period July 1978 onwards).

From Labour Force, Australia, January 2011 (cat. no. 6202.0) the ABS introduced monthly measures of aggregate monthly hours worked by state and territory as seasonally adjusted and trend estimates.

The article "Aggregate Monthly Hours Worked by State and Territory", in Labour Force, Australia, November 2010 (cat. no. 6202.0) introduced the new synthetic measures of aggregate monthly hours worked by state and territory to complement the existing state and territory information on employment and unemployment. The article detailed the methodology behind the production of the state and territory series, and described the aggregate monthly hours worked by each state and territory in February 2011 as well as changes in the number of hours worked over the past month and the past year.

This article supplements that analysis by comparing the growth in aggregate monthly hours worked of each state and territory over the past 32 years, detailing how the share of Australia's total hours worked by states and territories has changed, and examining the aggregate monthly hours worked by each state and territory during the recent economic downturn.


AGGREGATE MONTHLY HOURS WORKED: STATES AND TERRITORIES

Change, and percentage change in aggregate monthly hours worked

Table 1 shows the aggregate monthly hours worked in Australia for each state and territory, in July 1978 and February 2011, with the increase and percentage increase in aggregate monthly hours worked over this period.

Table 1. Aggregate Monthly Hours Worked: States and Territories, Trend - July 1978 to February 2011

July 1978 ('000)
February 2011 ('000)
Increase ('000)
Increase
(percentage points)

New South Wales
321 164.7
503 700.3
182 535.5
56.8
Victoria
248 039.1
402 227.2
154 188.1
62.2
Queensland
134 459.9
328 752.2
194 292.3
144.5
South Australia
82 069.9
112 297.5
30 227.6
36.8
Western Australia
79 340.1
174 275.9
94 935.8
119.7
Tasmania
24 582.5
31 173.2
6 590.7
26.8
Northern Territory
6 941.5
18 766.9
11 825.4
170.4
Australian Capital Territory
13 898.3
28 543.4
14 645.1
105.4

Source: Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0)


New South Wales contributed the greatest number of aggregate monthly hours worked (321.2 million in July 1978, and 503.7 million in February 2011). The greatest increase in aggregate monthly hours worked occurred in Queensland (an increase of 194.3 million hours, from 134.5 million hours in July 1978 to 328.8 million hours in February 2011).

Aggregate monthly hours worked can be indexed to compare the growth in aggregate monthly hours worked by states and territories over time - measuring the percentage change in aggregate monthly hours worked in each state and territory since the reference period (taken to the be the start of the series in July 1978).

The Northern Territory had the greatest percentage change in aggregate monthly hours worked over this period (170%), followed by Queensland (145%) and Western Australia (120%), while South Australia (37%) and Tasmania (27%) experienced the smallest growth in aggregate monthly hours worked.


Share of Australia's aggregate monthly hours worked by state and territory

The share of aggregate monthly hours worked that each state or territory contributes to Australia's total hours worked can be calculated over time and used to examine whether this has increased or decreased between July 1978 and February 2011.

Table 2 shows the state and territory percentage shares of Australia's aggregate monthly hours worked in July 1978 and February 2011, ranked by the percentage point change over this period.

Table 2. Aggregate Monthly Hours Worked: States and Territories, Trend - July 1978 to February 2011

July 1978 (%)
February 2011 (%)
change (%)

Queensland
14.8
20.6
5.8
Western Australia
8.7
10.9
2.2
Northern Territory
0.8
1.2
0.4
Australian Capital Territory
1.5
1.8
0.3
Tasmania
2.7
1.9
-0.8
South Australia
9.0
7.0
-2.0
Victoria
27.2
25.1
-2.1
New South Wales
35.3
31.5
-3.8

Source: Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0)


The percentage share (of the Australian total) of aggregate monthly hours worked by Queensland, Western Australia, and the Territories increased, while that of Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales decreased.

Queensland experienced the greatest percentage point increase (5.8 percentage points from 14.8% in July 1978 to 20.6% in February 2011) and New South Wales the greatest percentage point decrease (3.8 percentage points from 35.3% in July 1978 to 31.5% in February 2011).

Changes in the percentage share of Australia's total aggregate monthly hours worked across the states are strongly correlated with employed persons in those states: Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory recording the strongest increases in both of these measures. Between July 1978 to February 2011, the Northern Territory's total employed persons increased 173% (from 45,200 to 123,400), Queenslands's total employed persons increased 167% (from 873,900 to 2,330,000), and Western Australia's total employed persons increased 132% (from 527,400 to 1,220,800).

In terms of the percentage share of the Australian total, only two states changed their ranking over this period, with Western Australia having a greater percentage share than South Australia from the early 1980s. South Australia began with a 9.0% share of the Australian total in 1978, which decreased to 7.0% in February 2011, while Western Australia's share grew from 8.7% to 10.9% over this period.


THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS

The recent economic downturn resulted in an increased focus on Australia's labour market and in particular on changes in unemployment, employment and the relationship to hours worked. Economic downturns are characterised by an overall decrease in aggregate monthly hours worked but the experiences of individual states and territories during the periods of slowdown and recovery can be quite different. The relative resilience of each state and territory to the most recent (2008-09) economic downturn is analysed below.


During the recent economic downturn

The states and territories were affected by the global financial crisis, showing a decrease in aggregate monthly hours worked during the time period between approximately mid-2008 and mid-2009. Examining the period of negative growth in aggregate monthly hours worked can provide one measure of the duration of the economic downturn.

Table 3 shows the months, for each state, when negative month-on-month growth in aggregate monthly hours worked began, when it ended, and how long it lasted (duration in months).

In the territories, the growth movements were more complicated, with alternating periods of positive and negative month-on-month growth in aggregate monthly hours worked. Sample size in the territories is small and leads to higher volatility, therefore drawing conclusions around small and short periods of growth should be carried out with caution.

Table 3. Aggregate Monthly Hours Worked: States, Negative Growth, Trend - July 2008 to February 2011

start of period of negative growth
end of period of negative growth
duration (months)

New South Wales
June 2008
August 2009
15
Victoria
September 2008
April 2009
8
Queensland
October 2008
June 2009
9
South Australia
September 2008
August 2009
12
Western Australia
October 2008
October 2009
13
Tasmania
August 2008
October 2009
15

Source: Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0)


Victoria experienced negative month-on-month growth for just eight months (from September 2008 until April 2009), while in Western Australia the duration was 13 months (from October 2008 to October 2009).


Since the recent economic downturn

Labour market indicators such as employment, unemployment, participation and underemployment provide evidence of Australia's recovery from the global financial crisis. The increase in aggregate monthly hours worked in Australia since mid- to late-2009 supports this recovery, however, individual states and territories show different rates of growth.

Table 4 shows, for each state and territory, the low-point of aggregate monthly hours worked and when this occurred, as well as how this has increased in the period to February 2011 (measured by changes in the number, percentage and average monthly percentage change in aggregate monthly hours worked since the low-point).

Table 4. Aggregate Monthly Hours Worked: States and Northern Territory, Trend - July 2008 to February 2011

low point since July 2008
month in which this occurred
in February 2011
increase since low point
increase since low point (%)
number of months since low point
average monthly growth rate since low point (%)

New South Wales
485 296.7
Aug 09
503 700.3
18 403.5
3.8
18
0.21
Victoria
370 358.8
Apr 09
402 227.2
31 868.4
8.6
22
0.38
Queensland
322 940.9
Jun 09
328 752.2
5 811.3
1.8
20
0.09
South Australia
107 510.3
Aug 09
112 297.5
4 787.1
4.5
18
0.24
Western Australia
166 387.8
Oct 09
174 275.9
7 888.1
4.7
16
0.29
Tasmania
31 172.1
Oct 09
31 173.2
1.0
0.0
16
0.00
Northern Territory
17 129.3
Aug 08
18 766.9
1 637.7
9.6
30
0.32

Source: Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0)


The Northern Territory experienced a low-point in aggregate monthly hours worked relatively early, 17.1 million hours in August 2008, but since then increased strongly to 18.8 million hours (a 9.6% increase). Victoria also showed strong percentage increase in aggregate monthly hours worked of 8.6% (from 370.4 million hours in April 2009 to 402.2 million hours in February 2011).

Other states have not bounced back to such an extent - showing slower growth. For example, Tasmania's aggregate monthly hours worked varied from 31.2 million hours in October 2009 to a peak of 31.5 million hours in September 2010, but have since fallen to 31.2 million hours in February 2011.

Despite the strong growth in its aggregate monthly hours worked over the past 32 years, Queensland recorded a quite modest average monthly growth of 0.09% (from 322.9 million hours in June 2009 to 328.8 million hours in February 2011, an increase of 1.8%).

The Australian Capital Territory did not experience a period of negative growth between mid-2008 and mid-2009, however sample size in the territory is small and leads to higher variability than that exhibited in other states or territories.


CONCLUSION

Aggregate monthly hours worked estimates provide a valuable measure of the volume of work being carried out in the Australian labour market. Disaggregation by state and territory allows for a comparison between states and territories, to see differences in relative growth rates and examine how different states and territories respond to economic downturns. This article has presented some descriptive analysis of aggregate monthly hours worked by states and territories and highlighted the possibility and potential for more detailed analysis of these series to be undertaken by users.


FURTHER INFORMATION

For more information on the estimates, analysis or methodology in this article, please contact Felicity Splatt on (02) 6252 7031, or email Felicity.Splatt@abs.gov.au.


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