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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Labour

UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE

In the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS), people aged 15 years and over are classified as 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, the subsequent period of economic recovery and the more recent global financial crisis. In trend terms, the unemployment rate peaked at 11% in October 1992, before generally falling from the mid 1990s to 4.1% in March 2008. Since then, the unemployment rate had a steady increase to 5.8% in July 2009 followed by a steady decrease to 4.9% in March 2011 (graph 8.29).

For much of the period from June 1990 to June 2011, the male unemployment rate was higher than the female unemployment rate. However, from August 2003 to December 2008, the female rate was higher than the male rate. In January 2009 and March 2010, the rates were the same for both males and females.


8.29 Unemployment rate(a)

In conjunction with the decline in the unemployment rate, the number of unemployed people has generally fallen from the levels recorded in the early 1990s.

Over the past five years, the proportion of unemployed people who have been in long-term unemployment (i.e. lasting 52 weeks or more) has increased, from 17% in 2006–07 to 19% in 2010–11 and was lowest at 14% in 2008–09 (table 8.30). In contrast, the proportion of unemployed people who have been in relatively short-term unemployment (i.e. lasting less than 26 weeks) increased from 71% in 2006–07 to 74% in 2008–09, then decreased to 67% in 2010–11.


8.30 UNEMPLOYED PERSONS(a), By duration of unemployment

Weeks
Units
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11

Under 26
%
70.8
73.3
73.7
66.9
67.4
Under 13
%
55.3
57.9
56.2
50.0
51.1
13 to under 26
%
15.5
15.5
17.5
16.9
16.2
26 to under 52
%
12.4
11.7
12.4
16.1
13.4
52 and over
%
16.8
15.0
13.9
16.9
19.2
52 to under 104
%
7.7
7.4
7.4
9.8
10.5
104 and over
%
9.1
7.6
6.5
7.1
8.7
Persons
'000
493.8
475.5
570.5
640.9
606.9

(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 8.31 shows the relationship between the level of highest non-school qualifications and the duration of unemployment. At July 2010, the proportion of unemployed people who had been unemployed for a year or more was highest among those whose highest non-school qualification was a Certificate I/II (26%) and lowest among those with a Bachelor degree or higher (13%).


8.31 UNEMPLOYED PERSONS, Level of highest non-school qualification and duration of unemployment—July 2010

Duration of current period of unemployment (weeks)

Under 8
8 to under 26
26 to under 52
52 and over
Total
%
%
%
%
%
'000

Level of highest non-school qualification(a)
Bachelor degree or above
41.2
32.2
13.6
13.0
100.0
76.2
Advanced diploma / Diploma
47.5
28.6
8.1
15.8
100.0
38.4
Certificate III / IV
34.1
34.0
14.6
17.4
100.0
90.3
Certificate I / II(b)
21.4
29.9
23.0
25.7
100.0
43.4
Without non-school qualification
36.8
28.8
15.4
19.0
100.0
323.8
Total(c)
36.7
30.0
14.9
18.4
100.0
578.7

(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. Among both males and females, the most commonly reported main difficulty in finding work was 'Too many applicants' (16% for both). Females were more likely than males to report 'Unsuitable hours' as their main difficulty (10% compared with 3%) and 'Difficulties with child care/family' (3% compared with 1%) (graph 8.32). Males were more likely than females to report their main difficulty as 'No vacancies in line of work' (11% compared with 6%), 'Too far to travel/transport problems' (9% compared with 7%) and 'Own ill health or disability' (9% compared with 8%).

8.32 Unemployed persons, main difficulty in finding work–July 2010

 

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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.


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