4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/04/2016   
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LABOUR FORCE CHARACTERISTICS

It is important to distinguish between labour force data collected in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), and the monthly labour force statistics that are released by the ABS. The monthly Labour Force Survey is Australia's official measure of unemployment, with data collected monthly (over an eight month period) from a sample of the civilian population aged 15 years and over. The NATSISS collected labour force information at a point in time from a sample of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 15 years and over. Currently, estimates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are not published from the Labour Force Survey; estimates from the 2014–15 NATSISS are the most recent data available for this population.

There are differences in the classification of labour force status between the 2008 and 2014–15 NATSISS. In 2008, the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme existed, allowing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in communities to exchange unemployment benefits for opportunities to work or train in activities which were managed by a local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisation. From July 2013, CDEP was phased out and replaced by the Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP), which provided employment support services for people living in remote Australia. In the 2008 NATSISS, all CDEP participants were classified as employed, while in the 2014–15 NATSISS, participants in the RJCP were either classified as unemployed or not in the labour force.

The difference in the classification of labour force status for participants in these programs is based on payment arrangements, and aligns the treatment of these programs with labour force definitions. People working under CDEP received wages, and were considered to have an employer/employee relationship. RJCP participants received income support payments and were not considered to have an employer/employee relationship. RJCP participants were classified as unemployed or not in the labour force, depending on whether or not they had been actively looking for, and were available to, work.

It is possible to estimate the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over who were employed in 2008, excluding CDEP participants. However, it is not possible to determine whether those CDEP participants would have been classified as unemployed, or not in the labour force, as they were considered to be employed and were not asked whether they had been looking for, or were available, to work. For this reason, time series data presented in this chapter are limited to the employment to population ratio. Understanding the differences in the classification of labour force status is essential when making comparisons between the labour force characteristics of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population between 2008 and 2014–15.

Further information is provided in Appendix 3 released with this publication.

Labour force participation

The 2014–15 NATSISS estimated 257,400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were participating in the labour force (that is, they were employed or unemployed). This represents a labour force participation rate of 58%. Males were more likely than females to be participating in the labour force (65% compared with 52%), as were people in non-remote areas, compared with those in remote areas (61% and 49%, respectively) (Table 11).

Reflecting the normal working life cycle, the highest labour force participation rate was for those aged 35–44 years (68%), and the lowest for those aged 55 years and over (33%).

The highest labour force participation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were in the Australian Capital Territory (67%) and Queensland (63%), while the Northern Territory (47%) and Western Australia (53%) had the lowest participation rates (Table 2).

Employment

The employment to population ratio shows the proportion of people within a population who are employed. In 2014–15, less than half (46%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were employed (51% of males and 41% of females). In 2008, 52% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were employed, including 5% who were CDEP participants. Excluding CDEP participants from the estimate of employed people provides a more consistent comparison with the 2014–15 estimate, which excludes RJCP participants, giving an employment to population ratio of 46% in 2008.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males were more likely than females to be employed. This pattern was evident for all age groups, although the differences were not statistically significant for people aged 15–24 and 45–54 years (Figure 6.1).

Figure 6.1. Employment to population ratio(a), by age and sex — 2014–15
Graph Image for FIGURE 6.1 EMPLOYMENT TO POPULATION RATIO(a), by age and sex

Footnote(s): (a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. (b) The difference between male and female data is not statistically significant.

Source(s): 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey




Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in non-remote areas were more likely than those in remote areas to be employed (49% compared with 36%). The employment to population ratio in major cities was 55%, while for inner regional and outer regional areas, the employment to population ratios were 46% and 42%, respectively (Table 3).

After adjusting for differences in the age structure of the two populations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were significantly less likely than non-Indigenous people to be employed (rate ratio of 0.7) (Table 1).

Full-time and part-time work

People who usually work 35 hours or more per week are considered to be working full-time. In 2014–15, less than three in ten (28%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were working full-time, and a further 18% were working part-time. Males were more than twice as likely as females to be working full-time (38% compared with 18%), and were less likely to be working part-time (14% compared with 23%) (Table 11).

A larger proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in non-remote areas were working full-time (29%), compared with 21% in remote areas.

In non-remote areas, almost three-quarters (74%) of employed males were working full-time, compared with around two-thirds (68%) of those in remote areas. Among employed females, those living in remote areas were more likely to be working full-time than their counterparts in non-remote areas (52% compared with 43%) (Table 6.1).

Table 6.1. Full-time/part-time employment status(a), by sex and remoteness — 2014–15


Males
Females

Non-remote
(%)
Remote
(%)
Non-remote
(%)
Remote
(%)

Employed, working full-time
74.4
68.0
43.5
51.8
Employed, working part-time
25.2
32.9
57.0
47.8

Total employed persons 15 years and over
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0


(a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over who were employed.
Source(s): 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.

Unemployment

The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed people expressed as a proportion of people in the labour force (employed plus unemployed). In 2014–15, the unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over was 20.6% (Table 1 and Table 11).

Unemployment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people generally decreased with age. Unemployment rates were highest among people aged 15–24 years (31.8%) and lowest for those aged 55 years and over (6.2%). Reflecting the transition from school to work, there were large differences in unemployment rates for both males and females, between the 15–24 and 25–34 year age groups. The unemployment rate for males aged 25–34 years (18.9%) was 15 percentage points lower than for males aged 15–24 years (33.7%), while the comparable unemployment rates for females were 19.9% and 29.8% — a difference of 10 percentage points (Figure 6.2).

Figure 6.2. Unemployment rate(a)(b), by age and sex — 2014–15
Graph Image for FIGURE 6.2 UNEMPLOYMENT RATE(a)(b), by age and sex

Footnote(s): (a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. (b) Unemployed as a proportion of the labour force. (c) The difference between male and female data is not statistically significant.

Source(s): 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey



The unemployment rate was higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over in remote areas (27.4%) than in non-remote areas (19.3%). This was largely due to differences in the unemployment rates for males (29.8% in remote areas compared with 19.1% in non-remote areas), and the relatively low unemployment rate in major cities (14.0%) (Table 3).

The states with the highest unemployment rates were Western Australia (26.4%) and Queensland (25.1%), while the lowest unemployment rates were in the Australian Capital Territory (9.2%) and Tasmania (14.3%) (Table 2).

The unemployment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were higher than those for non-Indigenous people, in all age groups. The difference was largest for young people aged 15–24 years (31.8% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, compared with 16.7% for non-Indigenous people). The smallest difference was for those aged 55 years and over (6.2% compared with 3.0%) (Figure 6.3).

Figure 6.3. Unemployment rate(a), by age and Indigenous status — 2014–15
Graph Image for FIGURE 6.3 UNEMPLOYMENT RATE(a), by Indigenous status and age

Footnote(s): (a) Unemployed as a proportion of the labour force.

Source(s): 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014 General Social Survey