6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Mar 2018 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/04/2018   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY MARCH 2018


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

Australia's trend estimate of employment increased by 14,000 persons in March 2018, with:

  • the number of unemployed persons increasing by 3,500 persons;
  • the unemployment rate increasing by less than 0.1 percentage points to 5.6 per cent;
  • the participation rate increasing by less than 0.1 percentage points to 65.7 per cent; and
  • the employment to population ratio remaining steady at 62.0 per cent.

Over the past year, trend employment increased by 376,100 persons (or 3.1 per cent), which is above the average annual growth rate over the past 20 years of 1.9 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 0.9 percentage points to 62.0 per cent.

In monthly terms, trend employment increased by 14,000 persons between February and March 2018. This represents an increase of 0.11 per cent, which was below the monthly average growth rate over the past 20 years of 0.16 per cent, and the lowest monthly growth rate observed since December 2016.

Trend full-time employment increased by 1,200 persons between February and March 2018, and part-time employment increased by 12,900 persons. Compared to a year ago, there are 270,100 more persons employed full-time and 106,100 more persons employed part time. This compositional shift led to a decrease in the part-time share of employment of 0.1 percentage points over the past 12 months, from 31.8 per cent to 31.7 per cent.

The trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 0.2 million hours (or 0.01 per cent) in March 2018, to 1,733.7 million hours. Monthly hours worked increased by 2.6 per cent over the past year, slightly below the increase in employed persons (3.1 per cent). As a result, the average hours worked per employed person decreased slightly to 138.9 hours per month, or around 32.0 hours per week.

The trend unemployment rate increased by less than 0.1 percentage points to 5.6 per cent in March 2018, with the number of unemployed persons increasing by 3,500 to 735,000 persons. Over the past year the trend unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points, with the number of unemployed decreasing by 6,700 persons.

The trend participation rate increased by less than 0.1 percentage points to a historical high of 65.7 per cent in March 2018, and was 0.8 percentage points higher than in March 2017. Both the male and female participation rates remained constant at 70.9 and 60.6 per cent for the second month in a row, with the female participation rate remaining at an historical high.

The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed persons. Over the past year, the labour force has increased by 369,500 persons (2.9 per cent). This rate of increase is above the rate of increase for the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (325,500 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, increased by 0.1 percentage points to a historical high of 78.1 per cent in March 2018 after February figures were revised. The gap between male and female participation rates in this age range is less than 10 percentage points, at 82.9 and 73.3 per cent, continuing the long term convergence of male and female participation.

The trend participation rate for 15-24 year olds increased by 0.1 percentage point to 67.9 per cent in March 2018. The unemployment rate for this group increased by 0.1 percentage points to 12.5 per cent in March 2018 and decreased by 0.5 percentage points over the year.

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 4,900 persons from February to March 2018 (following a revised decrease of 6,300 persons the preceding month). The underlying composition of the net change was a decrease of 19,900 persons in full-time employment and a 24,800 increase in part-time employment, which followed similarly sized compositional shifts in February (a 20,100 increase and a 26,400 decrease respectively). Since March 2017, full-time employment has increased by 226,900 persons, while part-time employment has increased by 140,200 persons.

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 4.5 million hours (or 0.3 per cent) in March 2018 to 1,740.4 million hours. This follows an increase of 22.0 million hours (or 1.3 per cent) from January to February 2018.

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 61.9 per cent in March 2018, and increased by 0.8 percentage points from the same time last year.

Graph 1, Employment to population ratio, Persons, March 2008 to March 2018
Graph: Graph 1, Employment to population ratio, Persons, March 2008 to March 2018


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained steady at 5.5 per cent for the third consecutive month in March 2018. The participation rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 65.5 per cent.


STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

In March 2018, increases in trend employment were observed in all states and territories except for Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory where employment decreased by 700 and 400 people respectively. The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 4,700 persons), followed by Victoria (up 4,100 persons) and Queensland (up 3,200 persons).

Similarly, over the past year, increases in employment were also observed in all states and territories except Northern Territory (down 3,100 persons or 2.2 per cent). The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 138,900 persons), Queensland (up 101,500 persons), Victoria (up 79,700 persons) and Western Australia (up 25,700 persons). The highest annual employment growth rates were in Queensland at 4.3 per cent, followed by the Australian Capital Territory at 3.9 per cent, and New South Wales at 3.6 per cent.

The monthly trend unemployment rate increased in Western Australia by 0.2 percentage points to 6.4 per cent and by 0.1 percentage points in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory to 4.9 and 4.1 per cent respectively. Victoria and the Northern Territory experienced 0.1 percentage point decreases in trend unemployment rates to 5.5 and 3.9 per cent respectively. The monthly trend unemployment rate remained unchanged in Queensland and Tasmania (both 6.0 per cent) and South Australia (5.9 per cent).

The largest increase in the monthly trend participation rate was in Northern Territory (up 0.2 percentage points), followed by New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia (all up 0.1 percentage points). Victoria and Australian Capital Territory recorded decreases of 0.1 and 0.2 percentage points respectively.


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in Victoria (up 26,400 persons), followed by Tasmania (up 800 persons) and Western Australia (up 700 persons). The largest decrease was in New South Wales (down 6,500 persons), followed by South Australia (down 6,100) and Queensland (down 1,600 persons).

The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was in Western Australia (up 0.8 percentage points), followed by New South Wales (up 0.2 percentage points) and Tasmania (up 0.1 percentage points). South Australia,Victoria and Queensland recorded decreases in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 0.6, 0.4, and 0.1 percentage points respectively.

The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted participation rate was in Western Australia (up 0.6 percentage points to 68.7 per cent) followed by Tasmania (up 0.2 percentage points to 61.2 per cent) and Victoria (up 0.1 percentage points to 65.6 per cent). South Australia's seasonally adjusted participation rate decreased 0.9 percentage points to 62.4 per cent, followed by Queensland, down 0.2 percentage points to 66.0 per cent.

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.

Table 1, Unemployment rate, States and Territories

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
February
March
February
March
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
4.9
4.9
4.8
5.0
Victoria
5.5
5.5
5.7
5.2
Queensland
6.0
6.0
6.2
6.0
South Australia
6.0
5.9
6.2
5.6
Western Australia
6.2
6.4
6.1
6.9
Tasmania
6.0
6.0
6.0
6.1
Northern Territory
4.0
3.9
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
4.1
4.1
np
np
Australia
5.5
5.6
5.5
5.5

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