The information about the labour market in Australia presented in this chapter covers a wide range of aspects of economic and community life. Labour statistics are important economic indicators; changes in measures of employment, unemployment, earnings, job vacancies and industrial disputes provide insights into the economy and the effects of labour market policy settings. Labour statistics are also very much about people - their participation in the labour force, their success in finding employment, their earnings and other benefits, their type of work and their working hours.
This chapter begins with an outline of the main sources of data on the labour market. This is followed by a profile of the labour force, which consists of people who are either employed or unemployed. More detailed data are then presented for the two groups of employed and unemployed persons. For employed persons, data are included on underemployment, where part-time workers would like to work more hours. In relation to unemployment, statistics are also presented on the number of vacant jobs available. Following these sections on people in the labour force is information about those people who are not in the labour force, including data on marginally attached workers, who would like employment but are either not looking or not available for work.
The latter part of this chapter examines characteristics and issues related to employment in more detail. This includes data on the occupation, industry and sector of employed persons, as well as their hours, earnings, benefits and methods of setting pay. Information is also presented about the industrial relations environment, relating to industrial disputes and the proportion of employees who are union members.