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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2005  
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Contents >> Labour >> Labour force

The labour force represents the key official measure of the total supply of labour available to the labour market during a given short reference period. It represents the labour available for the production of economic goods and services. Therefore, persons in the labour force are also referred to as the 'currently economically active population'.

The Australian labour force framework classifies persons into three mutually exclusive categories: employed; unemployed; and not in the labour force. The employed and unemployed categories together make up the labour force which gives a measure of the number of persons contributing to, or willing to contribute to, the supply of labour. The third category (not in the labour force) represents the currently inactive population. This framework is illustrated in diagram 6.2. Further details about the Australian labour force framework, and the specific criteria for classifying persons to these three basic categories, are available in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (6102.0.55.001).

For the purpose of compiling Australian labour force statistics, the population is restricted to persons in the civilian population aged 15 years and over. This practice is consistent with international guidelines for the collection of labour statistics.

6.2 THE AUSTRALIAN LABOUR FORCE FRAMEWORK(a)
Diagram 6.2: THE AUSTRALIAN LABOUR FORCE FRAMEWORK(a)


(a) The rules for determining whether a person is classified as employed, unemployed or not in the labour force are detailed in 'Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods' (6102.0.55.001), paragraphs 2.12 to 2.23.

Source: Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (6102.0.55.001).


Characteristics of the labour force

The size and composition of the labour force are constantly changing. Changes in the size of the labour force are caused by changes in labour force participation as well as changes in the size and composition of the adult population. Between June 2003 and June 2004 the labour force grew by 1.5%. During the same period the civilian population aged 15 years and over grew 1.6%. The similarity in these rates indicates there was little change in the labour force participation rate over this period.

The labour force participation rate is one of the most important indicators for analysing the overall level of labour market activity. The participation rate is calculated by dividing the total number of persons in the labour force by the total number of persons in the civilian population aged 15 years and over. Analysis of participation rates, particularly in terms of age, sex and family type, provides the basis for monitoring changes in the size and composition of the labour supply.

During the past two decades the overall labour force participation rate has increased slowly, rising from a level of 60.5% in 1983-84 to 63.5% in 2003-04. The main force behind the long-term rise in the labour force participation rate has been an increase in the female participation rate. The female participation rate increased from 45.0% in 1983-84 to 55.6% in 2003-04. In contrast, the male participation rate fell from 76.5% to 71.6% over the same period. Graph 6.3 shows male and female participation rates between 1983-84 and 2003-04, and illustrates the convergence of male and female participation rates over time.

Graph 6.3: LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES(a)



Underlying these contrasting trends in male and female participation rates are varying movements in the age-specific participation rates. As seen in table 6.4, male and female participation rates are similar in the 15-19 year age group. Participation rates for males and females then rise as young people move from education and training to employment. For males, participation rates peak in the 25-34 and 35-44 year age groups, while female participation rates peak in the 20-24 year age group.

Age-specific participation rates for women between 1983-84 and 2003-04 indicate more women are remaining in the labour force during the child-bearing years. In 1983-84, the female participation rate fell from 73.0% for the 20-24 year age group to 54.1% for the 25-34 year age group, a fall of 18.9 percentage points. In 2003-04 the female participation rate fell from 77.1% for the 20-24 year age group to 70.8% for the 25-34 year age group, a fall of 6.3 percentage points.

Participation rates for men declined between 1983-84 and 2003-04 for almost all age groups. The exceptions were men aged 55-64 years (62.7% to 64.2%) and men aged 65 years and over (9.3% to 10.2%).


6.4 LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES(a), By age group

Males
Females


1983-84
2003-04
Change
1983-84
2003-04
Change
Age group (years)
%
%
%
%
%
%

15-19
61.4
59.0
-4.0
59.6
61.3
2.9
20-24
90.4
84.9
-6.1
73.0
77.1
5.7
25-34
95.4
91.5
-4.1
54.1
70.8
31.0
35-44
95.0
90.8
-4.4
58.1
71.5
23.2
45-54
91.0
87.2
-4.1
49.9
73.4
47.0
55-64
62.7
64.2
2.5
20.7
41.4
100.3
65 and over
9.3
10.2
10.2
2.1
3.2
51.9
Total
76.5
71.6
-6.4
45.0
55.6
23.7

(a) Annual averages.

Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery, (6291.0.55.001).


Table 6.5 shows changes in labour force status (i.e. employed, unemployed, not in the labour force) between 1998-99 and 2003-04. During this period the total number of persons employed grew by 10% to 9.6 million. This comprised an increase of 7% in the level of full-time employment and an increase of 20% in the level of part-time employment. Part-time employed persons now account for 28% of all employed persons. Women dominate the part-time workforce, accounting for 71% of part-time workers.

The unemployment rate fell from 7.4% in 1998-99 to 6.4% in 2000-01, rose to 6.7% in 2001-02 before declining a further 0.9 percentage points to 5.8% in 2003-04. For the first time since 1989-90 the unemployment rate for women was higher than for men in 2003-04 (6.0% compared with 5.6%).


6.5 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), Civilian population

Employed
Unemployed


Full-time
Part-time
Total
Full-time
Part-time
Total
Labour
force
Civilian
population
Unemploy-
ment rate
Participation
rate
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
%
%

MALES

1998-99
4,293.0
619.0
4,912.0
351.3
51.9
403.2
5,315.3
7,313.1
7.6
72.7
1999-2000
4,351.5
625.7
4,977.2
302.9
55.1
358.0
5,335.3
7,384.3
6.7
72.3
2000-01
4,368.2
674.9
5,043.1
303.5
56.9
360.4
5,403.5
7,490.6
6.7
72.1
2001-02
4,369.4
732.6
5,101.9
317.6
64.7
382.3
5,484.2
7,610.8
7.0
72.1
2002-03
4,425.6
768.3
5,193.9
285.6
63.6
349.2
5,543.1
7,731.4
6.3
71.7
2003-04
4,526.8
781.7
5,308.5
259.1
57.2
316.3
5,624.8
7,854.7
5.6
71.6

FEMALES

1998-99
2,129.8
1,647.1
3,776.9
192.0
94.4
286.4
4,063.3
7,553.3
7.0
53.8
1999-2000
2,186.0
1,705.5
3,891.5
175.3
92.9
268.3
4,159.7
7,657.3
6.4
54.3
2000-01
2,261.7
1,751.7
4,013.4
162.5
96.6
259.1
4,272.5
7,775.9
6.1
54.9
2001-02
2,225.3
1,840.9
4,066.2
182.1
99.0
281.0
4,347.3
7,892.2
6.5
55.1
2002-03
2,276.5
1,924.2
4,200.7
176.7
98.5
275.2
4,475.9
8,007.3
6.1
55.9
2003-04
2,313.6
1,937.4
4,251.0
170.8
98.9
269.7
4,520.6
8,132.2
6.0
55.6

PERSONS

1998-99
6,422.8
2,266.1
8,688.9
543.3
146.3
689.6
9,378.5
14,866.4
7.4
63.1
1999-2000
6,537.5
2,331.2
8,868.7
478.2
148.1
626.3
9,495.0
15,041.6
6.6
63.1
2000-01
6,629.9
2,426.7
9,056.5
466.0
153.5
619.5
9,676.0
15,266.5
6.4
63.4
2001-02
6,594.7
2,573.4
9,168.1
499.6
163.7
663.3
9,831.5
15,503.0
6.7
63.4
2002-03
6,702.1
2,692.5
9,394.5
462.3
162.1
624.4
10,018.9
15,738.7
6.2
63.7
2003-04
6,840.3
2,719.1
9,559.5
430.0
156.0
586.0
10,145.5
15,986.9
5.8
63.5

(a) Annual averages.

Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (6291.0.55.001).


Labour force participation, employment and unemployment vary across states and territories, and across capital cities and regional areas. Table 6.6 shows labour force status by state and part of state for 2003-04.

The Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory had higher participation rates (70.8% and 71.5% respectively) and lower unemployment rates (5.2% and 3.9%) than any of the states. Tasmania had the lowest participation rate (59.0%) and highest unemployment rate (6.9%).

In New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, the balance of state had a higher unemployment rate and lower participation rate than the capital city. However, in South Australia, the capital city (Adelaide) had a higher unemployment rate than the balance of state.


6.6 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), By state and territory - 2003-04

Employed

Full-time
Total
Unemployed
Labour
force
Civilian population
aged 15 and over
Unemployment
rate
Participation
rate
Capital city/balance of state
’000
’000
’000
’000
’000
%
%

Sydney
1,564.9
2,082.4
111.3
2,193.6
3,396.8
5.1
64.6
Balance of New South Wales
741.7
1,086.7
75.2
1,162.0
1,973.1
6.5
58.9
New South Wales
2,306.7
3,169.1
186.5
3,355.6
5,370.0
5.6
62.5
Melbourne
1,269.1
1,753.1
101.4
1,854.5
2,903.6
5.5
63.9
Balance of Victoria
419.2
620.4
39.4
659.8
1,082.0
6.0
61.0
Victoria
1,688.3
2,373.4
140.9
2,514.3
3,985.6
5.6
63.1
Brisbane
626.2
867.8
55.4
923.3
1,391.4
6.0
66.4
Balance of Queensland
691.4
977.2
67.4
1,044.5
1,646.4
6.5
63.4
Queensland
1,317.6
1,845.0
122.8
1,967.8
3,037.8
6.2
64.8
Adelaide
361.4
525.8
37.9
563.7
920.2
6.7
61.3
Balance of South Australia
133.0
191.3
10.9
202.2
323.0
5.4
62.6
South Australia
494.4
717.1
48.8
765.9
1,243.1
6.4
61.6
Perth
502.5
717.7
43.5
761.2
1,162.1
5.7
65.5
Balance of Western Australia
184.1
255.0
15.6
270.5
406.4
5.7
66.6
Western Australia
686.7
972.7
59.0
1,031.7
1,568.5
5.7
65.8
Hobart
61.3
89.6
6.0
95.7
162.0
6.3
59.1
Balance of Tasmania
84.4
120.5
9.6
130.1
220.8
7.4
58.9
Tasmania
145.6
210.1
15.6
225.7
382.8
6.9
59.0
Northern Territory
72.5
96.1
5.3
101.4
143.3
5.2
70.8
Australian Capital Territory
128.4
175.9
7.1
183.0
255.9
3.9
71.5
Australia
6,840.3
9,559.5
586.0
10,145.5
15,986.9
5.8
63.5

(a) Annual averages.

Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (6291.0.55.001).


In 2003-04 there were 10.1 million persons in the Australian labour force, of whom 25% were born overseas (table 6.7). The labour force participation rate for persons born overseas was 57.6% compared with 67.3% for persons born in Australia. Migrants from main English speaking countries participated in the labour force at a higher rate than those from other than main English speaking countries. The unemployment rate for migrants from main English speaking countries (4.5%) was lower than that for both persons born in Australia (5.7%) and migrants from other than main English speaking countries (7.1%).


6.7 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), By birthplace(b) - 2003-04

Employed

Full-time workers
Total
Unemployed
Labour force
Not in labour force
Unemployment rate
Participation rate
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
%
%

Born in Australia
5,084.9
7,197.5
434.8
7,632.3
3,716.4
5.7
67.3
Born overseas
1,755.4
2,362.0
151.2
2,513.2
1,850.7
6.0
57.6
Main English speaking countries
742.4
990.7
46.5
1,037.2
577.8
4.5
64.2
Other than main English speaking countries
1,013.0
1,371.3
104.7
1,476.0
1,272.8
7.1
53.7
Total
6,840.3
9,559.5
586.0
10,145.5
5,567.1
5.8
64.6

(a) Annual averages.
(b) Excludes persons in institutions.

Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (6291.0.55.001).


Table 6.8 provides an overview of labour force status of persons at June 2004 according to the family relationship within the household. For couple families with dependants present, 84% of husbands (or male partners) were employed full-time compared with 27% of wives (or female partners) (with a further 36% of wives employed part-time). Just over half of male lone parents with dependants (57%) were employed full-time compared with 22% of female lone parents with dependants. The unemployment rates for husbands and for wives were lower than for all other groups.


6.8 LABOUR FORCE STATUS, Relationship in household(a) - June 2004

Employed

Full-time
Total
Unemployed
Labour
force
Not in
labour force
Civilian population aged 15 and over
Unemploy-
ment rate
Participation rate
’000
’000
’000
’000
’000
’000
%
%

MALES

Family member
3,708.1
4,355.7
225.0
4,580.8
1,616.4
6,197.2
4.9
73.9
Husband or partner
3,043.5
3,364.2
97.6
3,461.9
1,141.4
4,603.2
2.8
75.2
With dependants
1,745.4
1,869.4
52.8
1,922.3
148.8
2,071.1
2.7
92.8
Without dependants
1,298.1
1,494.8
44.8
1,539.6
992.5
2,532.1
2.9
60.8
Lone parent
77.9
91.3
8.9
100.2
44.0
144.2
8.9
69.5
With dependants
50.3
60.2
7.8
68.0
20.7
88.7
11.4
76.7
Without dependants
27.5
31.1
1.2
32.2
23.3
55.5
3.7
58.1
Dependent student
5.4
194.5
32.0
226.5
264.6
491.1
14.1
46.1
Non-dependent child(b)
501.8
609.2
71.3
680.6
105.8
786.4
10.5
86.5
Other family person
79.6
96.5
15.1
111.6
60.7
172.3
13.5
64.8
Non-family member
692.5
822.8
66.5
889.3
403.8
1,293.1
7.5
68.8
Lone person
445.4
516.8
39.8
556.6
304.6
861.2
7.1
64.6
Not living alone
247.2
306.0
26.8
332.7
99.1
431.9
8.0
77.0
Total
4,400.7
5,178.5
291.6
5,470.1
2,020.2
7,490.3
5.3
73.0

FEMALES

Family member
1,844.7
3,593.2
211.0
3,804.2
2,629.3
6,433.5
5.5
59.1
Wife or partner
1,351.3
2,542.4
91.7
2,634.1
1,876.8
4,510.9
3.5
58.4
With dependants
545.5
1,265.4
54.4
1,319.8
695.4
2,015.3
4.1
65.5
Without dependants
805.8
1,277.0
37.3
1,314.3
1,181.3
2,495.6
2.8
52.7
Lone parent
164.3
338.4
38.5
376.8
357.9
734.7
10.2
51.3
With dependants
118.4
266.2
34.0
300.2
235.3
535.5
11.3
56.1
Without dependants
45.9
72.2
4.4
76.6
122.6
199.3
5.8
38.5
Dependent student
9.3
254.0
32.9
286.9
223.2
510.0
11.5
56.2
Non-dependent child(b)
272.3
387.9
41.7
429.7
56.3
486.0
9.7
88.4
Other family person
47.5
70.4
6.3
76.7
115.2
191.9
8.2
40.0
Non-family member
400.5
557.2
31.9
589.1
685.6
1,274.7
5.4
46.2
Lone person
258.0
346.7
16.6
363.4
603.1
966.4
4.6
37.6
Not living alone
142.5
210.5
15.2
225.7
82.5
308.3
6.8
73.2
Total
2,245.2
4,150.4
242.9
4,393.3
3,314.9
7,708.2
5.5
57.0

PERSONS

Family member
5,552.8
7,948.9
436.1
8,385.0
4,245.8
12,630.7
5.2
66.4
Husband, wife or partner
4,394.8
5,906.7
189.3
6,096.0
3,018.1
9,114.1
3.1
66.9
With dependants
2,290.9
3,134.9
107.2
3,242.1
844.3
4,086.3
3.3
79.3
Without dependants
2,103.9
2,771.8
82.1
2,853.9
2,173.9
5,027.8
2.9
56.8
Lone parent
242.1
429.6
47.4
477.0
401.8
878.9
9.9
54.3
With dependants
168.8
326.4
41.8
368.2
256.0
624.1
11.4
59.0
Without dependants
73.4
103.3
5.6
108.9
145.9
254.7
5.1
42.7
Dependent student
14.7
448.5
64.9
513.4
487.7
1,001.1
12.6
51.3
Non-dependent child(b)
774.1
997.2
113.1
1,110.2
162.1
1,272.3
10.2
87.3
Other family person
127.1
166.9
21.4
188.3
175.9
364.3
11.4
51.7
Non-family member
1,093.0
1,380.0
98.4
1,478.4
1,089.4
2,567.8
6.7
57.6
Lone person
703.4
863.5
56.4
919.9
907.7
1,827.6
6.1
50.3
Not living alone
389.7
516.5
42.0
558.5
181.7
740.1
7.5
75.5
Total
6,645.8
9,328.9
534.5
9,863.4
5,335.1
15,198.5
5.4
64.9

(a) Civilians who were residents of private dwellings where family status was determined. Generally relationship in household is determined for more than 90% of all civilians aged 15 years and over in the Labour Force Survey.
(b) Aged 15 years and over.

Source: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (6291.0.55.001).


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