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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
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Contents >> Chapter 6 - Labour >> Labour force

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, people in the labour force are also referred to as the 'currently economically active population'.

The Australian labour force framework classifies people 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 people 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 people 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 people 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 2.13 to 2.24.

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 2004 and June 2005 the labour force grew by 3.1%. During the same period the civilian population aged 15 years and over grew by 1.4%. The difference between these two rates reflects an increase 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 people in the labour force by the total number of people 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 60.5% in 1984-85 to 64.0% in 2004-05. This long-term rise in the labour force participation rate has been driven by an increase in the female participation rate. The female participation rate increased from 45.7% in 1984-85 to 56.5% in 2004-05. In contrast, the male participation rate fell from 75.9% to 71.8% over the same period. Graph 6.3 shows male and female participation rates between 1984-85 and 2004-05, and illustrates the convergence of male and female participation rates over this period.

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 men and women then rise as young people move from education and training to employment. For men, 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.

A comparison of age-specific participation rates for women between 1984-85 and 2004-05 indicate more women are participating in the labour force during their peak child-bearing years (the 25-34 year age group). In 1984-85, the participation rate for women aged 25-34 years was 56.2%, however by 2004-05 this had increased to 71.8%.

Participation rates for men declined between 1984-85 and 2004-05 for almost all age groups. The exceptions were men aged 55-64 years (61.2% to 65.3%) and men aged 65 years and over (9.2% to 11.1%).

6.4 LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES(a), By age

Males
Females


1984-85
2004-05
Change
1984-85
2004-05
Change
Age group (years)
%
%
%
%
%
%

15-19
60.9
59.6
-2.1
58.8
61.4
4.5
20-24
90.2
84.7
-6.1
73.1
77.4
5.8
25-34
94.8
91.2
-3.8
56.2
71.8
27.8
35-44
94.6
90.8
-4.1
60.1
72.4
20.3
45-54
90.1
88.0
-2.3
50.7
75.0
47.9
55-64
61.2
65.3
6.7
20.3
43.8
115.2
65 and over
9.2
11.1
20.5
2.2
4.0
85.3
Total
75.9
71.8
-5.3
45.7
56.5
23.8

(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 1999-2000 and 2004-05. During this period the total number of people employed grew by 11% to 9.8 million. This comprised an increase of 8% in the level of full-time employment and an increase of 20% in the level of part-time employment. Part-time employed people now account for 28% of all employed people. Women dominate the part-time workforce, accounting for 71% of part-time workers.


The unemployment rate fell from 6.6% in 1999-2000 to 5.3% in 2004-05. In 2003-04, the unemployment rate for women was higher than for men (6.0% compared with 5.6%). This was the first time since 1989-90 that this had happened. The unemployment rate for women remained higher than for men in 2004-05 (5.4% compared with 5.1%).

6.5 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a)

Employed
Unemployed


Full
time
Part
time
Total
Full
time
Part
time
Total
Labour
force
Civilian popul-
ation
Unem-
ployment
rate
Partici-
pation
rate
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
%
%

MALES

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
2004-05
4,630.1
808.1
5,438.2
231.5
60.6
292.1
5,730.3
7,980.5
5.1
71.8

FEMALES

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
2004-05
2,411.7
1,994.8
4,406.5
156.9
96.6
253.5
4,660.0
8,246.8
5.4
56.5

PERSONS

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
2004-05
7,041.8
2,802.9
9,844.7
388.4
157.2
545.6
10,390.3
16,227.3
5.3
64.0

(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 2004-05.


The Australian Capital Territory had a higher participation rate (72.0%) and a lower unemployment rate (3.6%) than any of the states and territories. Tasmania had the lowest participation rate (59.3%), while the Northern Territory had the highest unemployment rate (6.3%).

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 both South Australia and Western Australia, the capital city had a higher unemployment rate than the balance of state.

6.6 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), By state and territory - 2004-05

Employed

Full time
Total
Unemployed
Labour
force
Civilian
population
aged 15
and over
Unemploy-
ment rate
Partici-
pation
rate
Capital city/
balance of state
’000
’000
’000
’000
’000
%
%

Sydney
1,581.0
2,123.1
101.1
2,224.2
3,431.9
4.5
64.8
Balance of New South Wales
746.2
1,088.1
77.2
1,165.3
1,994.2
6.6
58.4
New South Wales
2,327.2
3,211.2
178.3
3,389.4
5,426.1
5.3
62.5
Melbourne
1,312.3
1,822.3
100.5
1,922.7
2,946.5
5.2
65.3
Balance of Victoria
424.4
629.7
46.3
676.0
1,098.5
6.9
61.5
Victoria
1,736.6
2,451.9
146.8
2,598.7
4,045.1
5.6
64.2
Brisbane
665.1
916.7
46.4
963.1
1,425.6
4.8
67.6
Balance of Queensland
739.2
1,031.2
54.5
1,085.7
1,687.5
5.0
64.3
Queensland
1,404.3
1,947.9
100.9
2,048.8
3,113.2
4.9
65.8
Adelaide
370.6
537.8
34.2
572.0
927.2
6.0
61.7
Balance of South Australia
133.9
193.2
8.1
201.3
325.6
4.0
61.8
South Australia
504.5
730.9
42.3
773.3
1,252.9
5.5
61.7
Perth
522.7
749.1
37.6
786.8
1,184.8
4.8
66.4
Balance of Western Australia
193.4
264.3
12.7
277.1
414.6
4.6
66.8
Western Australia
716.1
1,013.5
50.4
1,063.8
1,599.4
4.7
66.5
Hobart
64.3
92.5
5.4
97.9
164.2
5.5
59.6
Balance of Tasmania
83.4
123.7
8.6
132.3
223.8
6.5
59.1
Tasmania
147.7
216.2
13.9
230.2
388.0
6.1
59.3
Northern Territory
72.6
94.2
6.3
100.5
145.1
6.3
69.3
Australian Capital Territory
132.8
178.9
6.7
185.5
257.6
3.6
72.0
Australia
7,041.8
9,844.7
545.6
10,390.3
16,227.3
5.3
64.0

(a) Annual averages.

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


In 2004-05 there were 10.4 million people in the Australian labour force, of whom 25% were born overseas (table 6.7). The labour force participation rate for people born overseas was 58.6% compared with 67.8% for people born in Australia. People born in main-English speaking countries participated in the labour force at a higher rate than those born in other than main-English speaking countries (64.8% compared to 55.0%). The unemployment rate for people born in main-English speaking countries (4.0%) was lower than that for both people born in Australia (5.2%) and people born in other than main-English speaking countries (6.2%).

6.7 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), By birthplace(b) - 2004-05

Employed

Full time
Total
Unem-
ployed
Labour
force
Not in the
labour
force
Unem-
ployment
rate
Partic-
ipation
rate
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
%
%

Born in Australia
5,229.9
7,391.1
407.8
7,798.9
3,708.9
5.2
67.8
Born overseas
1,812.0
2,453.6
137.8
2,591.4
1,832.6
5.3
58.6
Main-English speaking countries
749.7
1,006.5
42.4
1,048.9
569.8
4.0
64.8
Other than main-English speaking countries
1,062.3
1,447.1
95.4
1,542.5
1,262.8
6.2
55.0
Total
7,041.8
9,844.7
545.6
10,390.3
5,541.5
5.3
65.2

(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 the labour force status of people at June 2005, according to the family relationship within the household. For couple families with dependants present, 85% of husbands (or male partners) were employed full time compared with 28% of wives (or female partners). A further 38% of wives were employed part time. Just over half (55%) of male lone parents with dependants were employed full time compared with 23% 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 - June 2005

Employed

Full time
Total
Unem-
ployed
Labour
force
Not in the
labour
force
Civilian population
aged 15
and over
Unemploy-
ment
rate
Partic-
ipation
rate
’000
’000
’000
’000
’000
’000
%
%

MALES

Family member
3,850.2
4,507.0
200.2
4,707.2
1,611.1
6,318.4
4.3
74.5
Husband or partner
3,171.6
3,488.8
86.3
3,575.1
1,136.2
4,711.4
2.4
75.9
With dependants
1,803.2
1,932.5
49.6
1,982.1
135.9
2,118.0
2.5
93.6
Without dependants
1,368.4
1,556.3
36.8
1,593.1
1,000.4
2,593.4
2.3
61.4
Lone parent
67.7
83.2
8.8
92.0
42.6
134.6
9.6
68.4
With dependants
43.7
53.8
7.7
61.5
17.3
78.8
12.6
78.0
Without dependants
24.0
29.4
1.1
30.5
25.2
55.7
3.5
54.7
Dependent student
9.2
200.1
32.9
233.0
262.8
495.8
14.1
47.0
Non-dependent child(a)
524.1
635.7
63.0
698.7
114.5
813.2
9.0
85.9
Other family person
77.7
99.2
9.2
108.4
55.0
163.4
8.5
66.3
Non-family member
699.1
829.9
55.4
885.3
417.1
1,302.4
6.3
68.0
Lone person
439.5
505.5
35.7
541.2
322.5
863.8
6.6
62.7
Not living alone
259.7
324.4
19.7
344.1
94.6
438.7
5.7
78.4
Relationship in household not determined
142.8
184.5
15.5
200.0
207.9
407.9
7.8
49.0
Total
4,692.1
5,521.4
271.2
5,792.5
2,236.2
8,028.7
4.7
72.1

FEMALES

Family member
1,921.5
3,765.8
202.5
3,968.3
2,572.1
6,540.4
5.1
60.7
Wife or partner
1,414.5
2,681.7
90.3
2,772.0
1,846.6
4,618.6
3.3
60.0
With dependants
571.8
1,350.7
54.2
1,404.9
659.1
2,064.0
3.9
68.1
Without dependants
842.7
1,331.0
36.2
1,367.2
1,187.5
2,554.7
2.6
53.5
Lone parent
160.9
333.1
48.2
381.3
320.4
701.7
12.6
54.3
With dependants
112.7
256.4
44.8
301.3
198.9
500.2
14.9
60.2
Without dependants
48.2
76.6
3.4
80.0
121.5
201.5
4.2
39.7
Dependent student
6.8
275.2
26.0
301.2
222.7
523.9
8.6
57.5
Non-dependent child(a)
285.8
389.8
29.7
419.5
61.3
480.8
7.1
87.2
Other family person
53.6
86.1
8.3
94.4
121.0
215.3
8.8
43.8
Non-family member
409.0
568.7
30.3
599.0
690.8
1,289.8
5.1
46.4
Lone person
264.9
361.4
18.5
379.9
609.6
989.5
4.9
38.4
Not living alone
144.1
207.3
11.8
219.1
81.2
300.3
5.4
73.0
Relationship in household not determined
90.7
162.6
10.2
172.9
284.8
457.6
5.9
37.8
Total
2,421.2
4,497.2
243.0
4,740.1
3,547.7
8,287.8
5.1
57.2

PERSONS

Family member
5,771.7
8,272.8
402.7
8,675.5
4,183.2
12,858.7
4.6
67.5
Husband, wife or partner
4,586.1
6,170.5
176.7
6,347.2
2,982.9
9,330.0
2.8
68.0
With dependants
2,375.0
3,283.2
103.7
3,387.0
795.0
4,181.9
3.1
81.0
Without dependants
2,211.1
2,887.3
72.9
2,960.2
2,187.9
5,148.1
2.5
57.5
Lone parent
228.6
416.2
57.0
473.3
363.0
836.2
12.0
56.6
With dependants
156.4
310.2
52.6
362.8
216.2
579.0
14.5
62.7
Without dependants
72.1
106.0
4.5
110.5
146.8
257.2
4.0
42.9
Dependent student
15.9
475.3
58.9
534.2
485.5
1,019.7
11.0
52.4
Non-dependent child(a)
809.9
1,025.5
92.7
1,118.2
175.8
1,294.0
8.3
86.4
Other family person
131.2
185.3
17.5
202.7
176.0
378.7
8.6
53.5
Non-family member
1,108.1
1,398.6
85.6
1,484.3
1,108.0
2,592.3
5.8
57.3
Lone person
704.3
866.9
54.2
921.1
932.2
1,853.3
5.9
49.7
Not living alone
403.8
531.7
31.4
563.2
175.8
739.0
5.6
76.2
Relationship in household not determined
233.5
347.1
25.8
372.9
492.7
865.6
6.9
43.1
Total
7,113.3
10,018.5
514.1
10,532.6
5,783.9
16,316.6
4.9
64.6

(a) Aged 15 years and over.

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


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