6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, May 2018 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/06/2018   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY MAY 2018


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

Australia's trend estimate of employment increased by 15,900 persons in May 2018, with:

  • the number of unemployed persons decreasing by 1,500 persons;
  • the unemployment rate remaining steady at 5.5 per cent;
  • the participation rate decreasing by less than 0.1 percentage points to 65.5 per cent; and
  • the employment to population ratio decreasing by less than 0.1 percentage points to 61.9 per cent.

Over the past year, trend employment increased by 317,700 persons (or 2.6 per cent), which was above the average annual growth rate over the past 20 years of 2.0 per cent. Over the same 12 month period the trend employment to population ratio, which is a measure of how employed the population (aged 15 years and over) is, increased by 0.6 percentage points to 61.9 per cent.

In monthly terms, trend employment increased by 15,900 persons between April and May 2018. This represents an increase of 0.13 per cent, which was below the monthly average growth rate over the past 20 years of 0.16 per cent.

Underpinning these net changes in employment is extensive dynamic change, which occurs each month in the labour market. In recent months there has generally been considerably more than 300,000 people entering employment, and more than 300,000 leaving employment. There is also further dynamic change in the hours that people work, which results in changes in the full-time and part-time composition of employment.

The trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 2.8 million hours (or 0.2 per cent) in May 2018, to 1,747.1 million hours. Monthly hours worked increased by 2.7 per cent over the past year, slightly above the increase in employed persons (2.6 per cent). As a result, the average hours worked per employed person increased slightly to 139.5 hours per month, or around 32.2 hours per week.

The trend unemployment rate remained steady at 5.5 per cent in May 2018 for the tenth consecutive month. The number of unemployed persons decreased by 1,500 to 723,700 persons. Over the past year the trend unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points, with the number of unemployed decreasing by 11,400 persons.

The quarterly trend underemployment rate increased by less than 0.1 percentage points to 8.5 per cent over the quarter to May 2018. Over the past year this rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points from the record high of 8.7 per cent in May 2017. The quarterly underutilisation rate, which is a combined measure of unemployment and underemployment in the labour force, was 13.9 per cent in May 2018, down 0.4 percentage points from 14.3 per cent in May 2017.

Graph 1, Unemployment, Underemployment and Underutilisation Rates, May 2008 to May 2018
Graph: Graph 1, Unemployment, Underemployment and Underutilisation Rates, May 2008 to May 2018


The trend participation rate decreased by less than 0.1 percentage points to 65.5 per cent in May 2018, and was 0.5 percentage points higher than in May 2017. Both male and female participation rates dropped slightly to 70.7% and 60.5% respectively.

The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed persons. Over the past year, the labour force has increased by 306,300 persons (2.4 per cent). This rate of increase was above the rate of increase for the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (315,800 persons, or 1.6 per cent).

The trend participation rate for 15-64 year olds, which controls (in part) for the effects of an ageing population, remained steady at 78.0 per cent for the fifth consecutive month. The gap between male and female participation rates in this age range is less than 10 percentage points, at 82.8 and 73.3 per cent respectively, continuing the long term convergence of male and female participation.

The trend participation rate for 15-24 year olds (who are often referred to as the “youth” group in the labour market) remained steady at 67.6 per cent for the fifth consecutive month in May 2018. The youth unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 12.2 per cent in May 2018 and decreased by 0.7 percentage points over the year. The youth underemployment rate was 17.6 per cent, down 0.9 percentage points over the year, and the youth underutilisation rate was 29.6 per cent, down 1.4 percentage points over the same period.

The trend series smooths the more volatile seasonally adjusted estimates and provide the best measure of the underlying behaviour of the labour market.


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 12,000 persons from April to May 2018 (0.1 per cent increase). The underlying composition of the net change was a decrease of 20,600 persons in full-time employment and an increase of 32,600 persons in part-time employment. Since May 2017, full-time employment has increased by 178,800 persons, while part-time employment has increased by 125,100 persons.

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 24.2 million hours (or 1.4 per cent) in May 2018 to 1,738,800 million hours.

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio decreased by less than 0.1 percentage points to 61.9 per cent in May 2018, and increased by 0.5 percentage points from the same time last year.

Graph 2, Employment to population ratio, Persons, May 2008 to May 2018
Graph: Graph 2, Employment to population ratio, Persons, May 2008 to May 2018


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 5.4 per cent in May 2018. The participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 65.5 per cent.

The quarterly seasonally adjusted underemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 8.5 per cent. The quarterly underutilisation rate remained steady at 13.9 per cent.


STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

In May 2018, increases in trend employment were observed in all states and territories except for Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory where employment decreased by 100 and 500 people respectively. The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 9,100 persons), followed by Victoria (up 7,500 persons) and Western Australia (up 2,500 persons).

Over the past year, increases in employment were also observed in all states and territories. The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 137,200 persons), Queensland (up 70,400 persons), Victoria (up 69,900 persons) and Western Australia (up 20,400 persons). The highest annual employment growth rates were in New South Wales at 3.6 per cent, followed by Queensland at 2.9 per cent, South Australia at 2.4 per cent and both Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory at 2.2 per cent.

The monthly trend unemployment rate increased in Western Australia and Tasmania by 0.1 percentage points to 6.4 per cent and 6.3 per cent respectively. Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory experienced 0.1 percentage point decreases in trend unemployment rates to 5.1, 5.7 and 3.7 per cent respectively. The monthly trend unemployment rate remained unchanged in New South Wales (4.9 per cent), Queensland (6.2 per cent) and the Northern Territory (4.0 per cent).

The quarterly trend underemployment rate increased in Queensland and South Australia by 0.3 and 0.2 percentage points to 9.2 and 9.6 per cent respectively. In Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory it fell 0.2 percentage points to 7.9 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively, and in the Northern Territory it fell 0.1 percentage points to 3.8 per cent.

The monthly trend participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points in New South Wales (64.8 per cent), Western Australia (68.6 per cent), Tasmania (61.4 per cent) and the Northern Territory (76.4 per cent) and remained steady in South Australia at 62.9 per cent. The largest decrease was in the Australian Capital Territory which was down 0.5 percentage points to 70.5 per cent, followed by Victoria and Queensland both down 0.1 percentage points to 65.4 and 65.8 per cent respectively.


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in Victoria (up 22,100 persons), followed by Queensland (up 5,000 persons), and New South Wales (up 2,800 persons). The largest decrease was in Western Australia (down 1,900 persons).

The only increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was in Tasmania (up 0.5 percentage points). In New South Wales the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.9 per cent. In both Queensland and South Australia the unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 6.2 and 5.6 per cent respectively. Victoria was down 0.2 percentage points to 5.1 per cent and Western Australia was down 0.1 percentage points to 6.4 per cent.

Queensland recorded the largest increase in the quarterly seasonally adjusted underemployment rate increasing 1.3 percentage points to 9.7 per cent, this was followed by Western Australia which increased by 0.6 percentage points to 9.3 per cent and South Australia which increased by 0.2 percentage points to 9.8 per cent. Tasmania recorded the largest decrease in the quarterly seasonally adjusted underemployment rate (down 1.0 percentage points to 9.9 per cent), this was followed by New South Wales (down 0.4 percentage points to 7.8 per cent), and Victoria (down 0.1 percentage points to 7.9 per cent).

The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted participation rate was in Tasmania (up 0.4 percentage points to 61.2 per cent) followed by Victoria (up 0.2 percentage points to 65.6 per cent). Queensland and Western Australia both dropped 0.2 percentage points to 65.7 and 68.6 per cent respectively whilst New South Wales dropped 0.1 percentage points to 64.8 per cent.

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.

Table 1, Unemployment rate, States and Territories

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
April
May
April
May
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
4.9
4.9
5.0
4.9
Victoria
5.2
5.1
5.2
5.1
Queensland
6.2
6.2
6.5
6.2
South Australia
5.8
5.7
5.9
5.6
Western Australia
6.3
6.4
6.5
6.4
Tasmania
6.2
6.3
6.1
6.6
Northern Territory
4.0
4.0
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
3.8
3.7
np
np
Australia
5.5
5.5
5.6
5.4

np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated