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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 >> Unemployed people

UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE

In the ABS monthly LFS, people aged 15 years and over are considered to be unemployed if they satisfy three criteria: they are not employed; they are available to start work; and they are taking active steps to find work.

Two important measures of unemployment are the number of people unemployed and the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate, defined as the number of unemployed people expressed as a percentage of the labour force, offers an insight into the level of unutilised labour resources within the economy.

Movements in the unemployment rate over the last 20 years have been dominated by the economic downturn of the early-1990s and the subsequent period of economic recovery. In trend terms, the unemployment rate peaked at 10.7% in December 1992, then generally fell from the mid-1990s to 4.3% in June 2007 (graph 8.38).

8.38 Unemployment rate(a)
Graph: 8.38 Unemployment rate(a)

Prior to 1990, the unemployment rate for men was lower than for women. However, when the unemployment rate increased sharply in 1990-91, the male unemployment rate increased to a level above the female unemployment rate. Since mid-2003, the male unemployment rate has generally been lower than the female unemployment rate.

In conjunction with the decline in the unemployment rate, the number of unemployed people has fallen from the levels recorded in the early-1990s. The trend for unemployed people seeking full-time work has generally reflected the economic cycle. In contrast, over the last two decades, the trend for people seeking part-time work has gradually increased, rising from 97,900 people (or 16% of unemployed people) in June 1987 to 142,500 people (or 30% of unemployed people) in June 2007 (graph 8.39).

8.39 Unemployed persons(a)
Graph: 8.39 Unemployed persons(a)
Over the past five years the proportion of unemployed people who have been in long-term unemployment (lasting 52 weeks or more) has been steadily decreasing, from 22% in 2002-03 to 17% in 2006-07 (table 8.40). In contrast the proportion of unemployed people who have been in relatively short-term unemployment (lasting less than 26 weeks) has been increasing, from 65% in 2002-03 to 71% in 2006-07.

8.40 UNEMPLOYED PERSONS(a), By duration of unemployment

Weeks
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06
2006-07

Under 26 %
64.5
65.5
68.2
68.8
70.7
Under 8 %
36.9
38.7
42.8
41.8
43.4
8 to under 26 %
27.5
26.8
25.4
27.1
27.3
26 to under 52 %
13.7
13.5
12.3
12.9
12.4
52 and over %
21.9
21.0
19.5
18.3
16.9
52 to under 104 %
9.0
9.0
8.1
7.9
7.7
104 and over %
12.9
12.0
11.5
10.4
9.2
Persons '000
614.4
572.7
540.5
527.2
489.0

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


Educational qualifications can have a significant bearing on labour market prospects. Table 8.41 shows the relationship between the level of highest non-school qualifications and the duration of unemployment. At July 2006, the proportion of unemployed people who were long-term unemployed was lower among those with a bachelor degree or above (14%) compared with those who hold a Certificate I/II (25%) or without a non-school qualification (21%).

8.41 UNEMPLOYED PERSONS, Level of highest non-school qualification - July 2006

Duration of current period of unemployment (weeks)
Under 8
8 to under 26
26 to under 52
52 and over
Number
%
%
%
%
'000

Level of highest non-school qualification(a)
Bachelor degree or above
48.8
27.5
9.8
13.8
45.1
Advanced diploma or diploma
34.4
34.8
8.9
21.9
25.1
Certificate III/IV
39.5
25.0
15.5
20.0
59.1
Certificate I/II(b)
32.1
30.7
12.4
24.8
52.3
Without non-school qualification
33.5
28.8
17.1
20.6
277.7
Total(c)
35.8
28.5
15.1
20.5
462.0

(a) For further details on how level of highest non-school qualification is determined see 'Education and Work, Australia' (6227.0).
(b) Includes 'Certificate not further defined'.
(c) Includes 'Level not determined'.
Source: Job Search Experience, Australia (6222.0).


Unemployed people encounter a variety of difficulties in finding work. Women were more likely than men to report insufficient work experience as their main difficulty (12% compared with 9%), as well as difficulties related to concerns outside the workplace, such as 'Unsuitable hours' (8% compared with 3%) and 'Difficulties with child care, other family responsibilities' (4% compared with 1%). Men were more likely than women to report their main difficulty as 'Too far to travel/transport problems' (12% compared with 6%), 'Own ill health or disability' (11% compared with 8%) and 'Considered too old by employers' (10% compared with 8%) (graph 8.42).

8.42 Unemployed persons, main difficulty in finding work - July 2006
Graph: 8.42 Unemployed persons, main difficulty in finding work—July 2006




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