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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY DECEMBER 2019
Over the past year, trend employment increased by 260,900 people (or 2.1%), which was above the average annual growth rate over the past 20 years of 2.0%. Over the same 12 months, the trend employment to population ratio, which is a measure of how employed the population (aged 15 years and over) is, increased by 0.3 percentage points (pts) to 62.6%.
Trend employment increased by 17,500 people (0.14%) between November 2019 and December 2019. This was below the monthly average growth rate over the last 20 years of 0.16%.
Underpinning these net changes in employment is extensive dynamic change, which occurs each month in the labour market. In recent months, there has been more than 300,000 people entering and leaving employment. There is also further dynamic change in the hours that people work, which results in changes in the full-time and part-time composition of employment.
Trend full-time employment increased by 8,900 people between November 2019 and December 2019, and part-time employment increased by 8,600 people. Compared to a year ago, there were 132,600 more people employed full-time and 128,300 more people employed part-time. This compositional change has led to an increase in the part-time share of employment from 31.4% to 31.8%.
The trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 2.9 million hours (0.2%) to 1,788.2 million hours in December 2019. Over the past year, monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 1.7%, below the 2.1% increase in employed people. In December 2019, the average hours worked per employed person was around 137.8 hours per month or around 31.7 hours per week.
The trend unemployment rate decreased by less than 0.1 pts to 5.1% in December 2019. The number of unemployed people decreased by 4,400 in December 2019 to 703,600 people, and by 31,400 people since December 2018.
The trend participation rate remained steady at 66.0% in December 2019, and was 0.4 pts higher than in December 2018. The female participation rate remained steady at 61.2% and the male participation rate decreased by 0.1 pts to 70.9%.
The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed people. Over the past 12 months, the labour force increased by 292,300 people (2.2%), which was above the rate of increase for the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (1.6%).
The trend participation rate for 15-64 year olds, which controls (in part) for the effects of an aging population, remained steady at 78.6%. The gap between male and female participation rates in this age group was less than 10 pts, at 83.1% and 74.3% respectively, continuing the long term convergence of male and female participation.
The trend participation rate for 15-24 year olds (who are often referred to as the "youth" group in the labour market) remained steady at 68.1%. The unemployment rate for this group remained steady at 11.6% in December 2019, and has increased by 0.2 pts since December 2018.
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 28,900 people in December 2019 to 12,981,600 people. The underlying composition of the net change was a decrease of 300 people in full-time employment and an increase of 29,200 people in part-time employment. Since December 2018, full-time employment increased by 152,700 people, while part-time employment increased by 109,900 people.
Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 8.2 million hours (or 0.5%) in December 2019 to 1,791.1 million hours.
The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio remained steady at 62.6% in December 2019, and increased by 0.3 pts since December 2018.
GRAPH 1. EMPLOYMENT TO POPULATION RATIO, PEOPLE, December 2009 to December 2019
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 pts to 5.1% in December 2019. The participation rate remained steady at 66.0%.
STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES
In December 2019, increases in employment were observed in most states and territories, notably Victoria (up 8,500 people), New South Wales (up 5,000 people) and Queensland (up 4,100 people). Decreases were recorded in South Australia (down 1,400 people), Western Australia (down 200 people), and the Australian Capital Territory (down 200 people).
Over the past year, increases in employment were observed in all states and territories. The largest increases were in Victoria (up 98,000 people), New South Wales (up 80,000 people), and Queensland (up 57,600 people). The highest annual employment growth rates were in the Australian Capital Territory at 3.3%, followed by Victoria and Tasmania at 2.9%. The annual trend employment growth rates in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory were above their respective 20 year average annual growth rates in trend employment.
The monthly trend unemployment rate increased by 0.1 pts in the Northern Territory (5.6%). The monthly trend unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 pts in Queensland (6.0%) and Tasmania (5.8%). All remaining states and the Australian Capital Territory recorded no change.
The monthly trend participation rate increased by 0.4 pts in the Northern Territory (75.1%), by 0.2 pts in Tasmania (61.1%), and by 0.1 pts in Victoria (66.5%). The monthly trend participation rate decreased by 0.2 pts in the Australian Capital Territory (70.6%).
SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES
In December 2019, the largest increases in employment were recorded in New South Wales (up 20,600 people) and Victoria (up 10,300 people). The largest decrease was in Western Australia (down 5,300 people).
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.3 pts in Victoria (4.9%). The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased in all the other states with the largest falls in Queensland (down 0.6 pts to 5.7%) and Tasmania (down 0.5 pts to 5.5%).
The seasonally adjusted participation rate increased by 0.3 pts in Victoria (66.6%), and by 0.2 pts in New South Wales (65.5%). The seasonally adjusted participation rate decreased by 0.6 pts in Queensland (65.6%), by 0.5 pts in Western Australia (67.7%), by 0.3 pts in South Australia (62.5%) and by less than 0.1 pts in Tasmania (61.0%).
Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.
TABLE 1. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, STATES AND TERRITORIES
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