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1318.3 - Qld Stats, Jun 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/06/2008   
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Image: Labour force characteristics of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 2007 LABOUR FORCE CHARACTERISTICS OF QUEENSLAND ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE, 2007

Introduction
Participation
Employment
Unemployment
Further Information
End Note

INTRODUCTION

This article presents information about the labour force characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders aged 15 years and over. The information is based on data collected in the national monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) in 2007. Data published previously for 2002 to 2006 are also included in this article for comparison purposes.

The monthly LFS is the main source of information about the labour force status of Australia's civilian population. From April 2001, the monthly LFS has included a question on Indigenous status. The labour force estimates for Indigenous Australians in this article were produced by combining the LFS samples for each of the 12 months of a calendar year to produce annual estimates.

To help in the interpretation of these estimates, this article also draws attention to a number of statistical issues that need to be considered when using LFS estimates to describe Indigenous labour force characteristics. These have an impact on the relevance, quality and reliability of Indigenous estimates from the LFS. 1


PARTICIPATION

In 2007 in Queensland, an estimated 57,300 Indigenous people were in the labour force (i.e. either employed or unemployed). This represents a labour force participation rate for Queensland Indigenous people aged 15 years and over of 64.1% which was higher than the national Indigenous rate of 56.3%.

Between 2002 and 2004, the Queensland Indigenous population not in the labour force increased from 28,600 to 31,700. After falling slightly in 2005 and 2006, the number not in the labour force rose to 32,100 in 2007.

INDIGENOUS PERSONS AGED 15 YEARS AND OVER, QUEENSLAND , LABOUR FORCE STATUS - 2002 to 2007

Total
employed
'000
Total
unemp-
loyed

'000
Labour
force
'000
Not in
labour
force
'000
Civilian
population
aged 15 years
and over
'000
Unemp-
loyment

rate
%
Partici-
pation

rate
%
Employment
to
population
ratio
%
Civilian
population
living in
remote areas
%

2002
39.0
10.1
49.1
28.6
77.7
20.5
63.2
50.2
25.0
2003
40.1
9.1
49.2
30.5
79.7
18.5
61.7
50.3
25.0
2004
42.9
7.4
50.3
31.7
82.0
14.7
61.3
52.3
25.0
2005
45.1
7.7
52.9
31.5
84.4
14.6
62.7
53.5
25.0
2006
50.0
7.4
57.4
29.5
86.8
12.8
66.1
57.6
25.1
2007
51.6
5.6
57.3
32.1
89.4
9.8
64.1
57.8
25.1

Source: Labour Force Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 6287.0).


EMPLOYMENT

In 2007, there were an estimated 51,600 Queensland indigenous people aged 15 years and over in employment, a 32% increase over the number of Indigenous employed in 2002. This equates to an average annual increase in Indigenous employment of 5.8%.

The Queensland Indigenous employment to population ratio in 2007 was 57.8% compared to 48.4% for Australia.

UNEMPLOYMENT

The Queensland Indigenous unemployment rate in 2007 was 9.8% which is less than half the rate in 2002 (20.5%). Queensland had the third lowest Indigenous unemployment rate of all states and territories and has been lower than the national average since 2004.
INDIGENOUS UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, Queensland and Australia–2002 to 2007
Graph: Indigenous unemployment rate, Queensland and Australi, 2002 to 2007


FURTHER INFORMATION

More information on this topic can be found in Labour Force Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 6287.0).
END NOTE

1. Some of these statistical issues arise because the LFS is designed primarily to provide reliable estimates of key labour force aggregates for the whole of Australia and, secondarily, for each state and territory, rather than estimates for small populations or small geographic areas. The small size of the Indigenous population, its wide dispersion, and the relatively high proportion who live in remote areas present particular difficulties in producing reliable labour force estimates for the Indigenous population. There are also some practical difficulties with applying the standard LFS concepts and definitions and using the standard LFS survey questions in Indigenous communities, particularly in remote regions. In addition, the small sample of Indigenous people identified in the LFS, even when pooled across the year, has implications for the reliability of the survey estimates.

Information about the labour force characteristics of the Indigenous population has been collected in the LFS using international standards for defining and measuring employment and unemployment. The distinction between paid and unpaid work is fundamental to these definitions. As a result, the definitions may not always give adequate recognition to the 'unpaid' activities which some people undertake. However, the use of standard definitions across all population groups is seen as important for ensuring objectivity and uniformity in measuring Australia's labour force.

In the LFS, employment is defined as working for at least one hour, either for pay or profit, or as unpaid work in a family business; or being absent from work but remaining formally attached to a job. Persons who participate in labour market programs are counted as employed, unemployed or not in the labour force according to how they respond to questions in the LFS about their actual activity in the week before interview.

The Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme is a program provided by the Federal Government for (primarily) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote, rural and urban areas. It enables an Indigenous community or organisation to pool the unemployment benefit entitlements of individuals into direct wages for those people who choose to participate in local employment in various community development or organisation programs as an alternative to receiving individual income support payments. The relationship between CDEP organisations and the individual participants who are undertaking paid work is treated by ABS as an employer/employee relationship. The individual participants are considered to be in paid employment, even though they are paid for their work from funds originating as unemployment benefits.

The definition of unemployment is based around the concepts of actively looking for work and being available to start work. Where job opportunities are scarce or may not exist, such as in some remote parts of Australia, there may be little incentive to actively look for work. As a result, there may be relatively little unemployment measured in such regions, with the population who are not employed falling mainly into the 'not in the labour force' category.

Due to these statistical issues caution should be used when comparing estimates across states and territories and over time within states and territories.

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