6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Feb 2018 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/03/2018   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY FEBRUARY 2018


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

Australia's trend estimate of employment increased by 19,300 persons in February 2018, with:

  • the number of unemployed persons increasing by 4,300 persons;
  • the unemployment rate remaining steady at 5.5 per cent;
  • the participation rate increasing by 0.1 percentage points to 65.7 per cent; and
  • the employment to population ratio increased by less than 0.1 percentage points to 62.1 per cent.

Over the past year, trend employment increased by 399,500 persons (or 3.3 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 1.0 percentage points to 62.1 per cent.

In monthly terms, trend employment increased by 19,300 persons between January and February 2018. This represents an increase of 0.16 per cent, which was in line with 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 7,700 persons between January and February 2018, and part-time employment increased by 11,600 persons. Compared to a year ago, there are 293,100 more persons employed full-time and 106,500 more persons employed part time. The part-time share of employment decreased 0.2 percentage points over the past 12 months, from 31.9 per cent to 31.7 per cent.

The trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 1.4 million hours (or less than 0.10 per cent) in February 2018, to 1,730.3 million hours. Monthly hours worked increased by 2.7 per cent over the past year, slightly below the increase in employed persons (3.3 per cent). As a result, the average hours worked per employed person decreased slightly to 138.6 hours per month, or around 32.0 hours per week.

The trend unemployment rate remained at 5.5 per cent for the seventh consecutive month in February 2018. The number of unemployed persons increased by 4,300 to 729,500 persons.

The quarterly trend underemployment rate decreased 0.1 percentage points to 8.3 per cent over the quarter to February 2018. Over the past year this rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points, with the number of underemployed decreasing by 18,400 persons. The quarterly underutilisation rate, which is a combined measure of unemployment and underemployment in the labour force, was 13.8 per cent in February 2018, down from 13.9 per cent in November 2017.

Graph 1, Unemployment, Underemployment and Underutilisation Rates, February 2008 to February 2018
Graph: Graph 1, Unemployment, Underemployment and Underutilisation Rates, February 2008 to February 2018


The trend participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 65.7 per cent in February 2018, the highest it has been since December 2010. The male participation rate increased to 71.0 per cent whilst the female participation rate increased to a further historical high of 60.6 per cent.

The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed persons. Over the past year, the labour force has increased by 389,500 persons (3.0 per cent). This rate of increase is above the rate of increase for the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (328,500 persons, or 1.7 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 78.1 per cent in February 2018. This is the highest rate recorded since the series began in February 1978 and indicates the 15-64 year old population is participating in the labour market at a record high level. The gap between male and female participation rates in this age range is now less than 10 percentage points, at 83.0 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 0.2 percentage points to 67.9 per cent in February 2018. The unemployment rate for this group increased by 0.1 percentage points to 12.7 per cent in February 2018 and decreased by 0.2 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 17,500 persons from January to February 2018 (following an increase of 12,500 over the preceding month). The underlying composition of the net change was an increase of 64,900 persons in full-time employment and a 47,400 decrease in part-time employment, which followed similarly sized compositional shifts in January (a 53,200 decrease and a 65,600 increase respectively). Since February 2017, full-time employment has increased by 327,600 persons, while part-time employment has increased by 93,100 persons.

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 21.2 million hours (or 1.2 per cent) in February 2018 to 1,734.1 million hours. This follows a decrease of 23.4 million hours (or 1.3 per cent) from December 2017 to January 2018.

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio remained steady at 62.0 per cent in February 2018, representing an increase of 1.1 percentage points from the same time last year.

Graph 2, Employment to population ratio, Persons, February 2008 to February 2018
Graph: Graph 2, Employment to population ratio, Persons, February 2008 to February 2018


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 5.6 per cent in February 2018. The participation rate increased by less than 0.1 percentage points to 65.7 per cent.

The quarterly seasonally adjusted underemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 8.4 per cent. The quarterly underutilisation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 13.9 per cent.


STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

In February 2018, increases in trend employment were observed in all states and territories except for Tasmania where employment remained steady at 246,400. The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 7,300 persons), followed by Queensland (up 4,200 persons) and South Australia (up 2,700 persons).

Similarly, over the past year, increases in employment were also observed in all states and territories except Northern Territory (down 5,000 persons or 3.5 per cent). The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 147,800 persons), Queensland (up 110,000 persons), Victoria (up 77,700 persons) and Western Australia (up 30,600 persons). The highest annual employment growth rates were in the Australian Capital Territory (4.7 per cent) followed by Queensland (4.6 per cent) and New South Wales (3.9 per cent).

Increases in the monthly trend unemployment rate were seen in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (all 0.1 percentage points). The unemployment rate remained unchanged in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania. The Northern Territory experienced a decrease of 0.1 percentage points.

The quarterly trend underemployment rate increased in New South Wales and Tasmania by 0.1 and 0.2 percentage points to 8.1 and 10.8 per cent respectively. The largest decrease was observed in Western Australia (down 0.4 percentage points to 8.8 per cent). The quarterly trend underemployment rate remained unchanged in South Australia and Northern Territory at 9.2 and 4.4 per cent respectively.

The largest increase in the monthly trend participation rate was in South Australia (up 0.2 percentage points), followed by New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory which all recorded 0.1 percentage point increases. Victoria and Western Australia both recorded decreases of 0.1 percentage points whilst Tasmania remained unchanged.


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in New South Wales (up 28,400 persons), followed by South Australia (up 7,500). The largest decrease was in Victoria (down 11,300) followed by Western Australia (down 1,300) and Queensland (down 1,000).

The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was in Tasmania (up 0.7 percentage points) followed by South Australia and Western Australia (both up 0.2 percentage points), and Victoria and Queensland (both up 0.1 percentage points). New South Wales recorded a decrease in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 0.2 percentage points.

The quarterly seasonally adjusted underemployment rate recorded a 0.3 percentage points decrease in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland to 8.1, 8.8 and 8.4 per cent respectively. The largest increases were in South Australia and Tasmania which increased by 0.8 and 0.6 percentage points to 9.6 and 10.9 per cent respectively.

The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted participation rate was in South Australia (up 0.7 percentage points) followed by Tasmania (up 0.3 percentage points) and New South Wales (up 0.2 percentage points). Victoria saw a decrease in their seasonally adjusted participation rate (down 0.3 percentage points). Queensland and Western Australia remained unchanged.

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.

Table 1, Unemployment rate, States and Territories

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
January
February
January
February
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
4.8
4.9
5.1
4.8
Victoria
5.7
5.7
5.6
5.7
Queensland
6.1
6.1
6.1
6.2
South Australia
6.1
6.2
6.1
6.3
Western Australia
6.0
6.0
5.8
6.0
Tasmania
5.8
5.8
5.3
6.0
Northern Territory
4.5
4.4
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
4.0
4.1
np
np
Australia
5.5
5.5
5.5
5.6

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