6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Feb 2019 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/03/2019   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY February 2019


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

Australia's trend employment estimate increased by 20,600 persons in February 2019, with:

  • the number of unemployed persons increasing by 1,800 persons;
  • the unemployment rate remaining steady at 5.0%;
  • the underemployment rate decreasing less than 0.1 percentage points (pts) to 8.1%;
  • the underutilisation rate decreasing less than 0.1 pts to 13.1%;
  • the participation rate remaining steady at 65.6%; and
  • the employment to population ratio remaining steady at 62.4%.

Over the past year, trend employment increased by 290,700 persons (or 2.3%), which was above the average annual growth rate over the past 20 years of 2.0%. 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 0.4 pts to 62.4%.

Trend employment increased by 20,600 persons between January 2019 and February 2019. This represents an increase of 0.16%, which was equal to the monthly average growth rate over the past 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 generally been around 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.

In February, trend full-time employment increased by 12,300 persons and part-time employment increased by 8,200 persons. Compared to a year ago, there are 219,100 more persons employed full-time and 71,600 more persons employed part-time. This compositional shift led to a decrease in the part-time share of employment over the past 12 months, from 31.7% to 31.5%.

The trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 2.6 million hours (or 0.1%) in February 2019 to 1,767.0 million hours. Monthly hours worked increased by 1.9% over the past year, which was below the 2.3% increase in employed persons. The average hours worked per employed person was 138.5 hours per month or around 31.9 hours per week.

The trend unemployment rate remained steady at 5.0% in February 2019 (the January 2019 trend unemployment rate was revised down this month from 5.1% to 5.0%). The number of unemployed persons increased by 1,800 to 673,100 persons. Over the past year, the trend unemployment rate decreased by 0.5 pts, with the number of unemployed decreasing by 53,200 persons.

The trend underemployment rate decreased less than 0.1 pts to 8.1% over the month. Over the past year this rate decreased by 0.4 pts, from 8.5% in February 2018. The underutilisation rate, which is a combined measure of unemployment and underemployment in the labour force, decreased less than 0.1 pts to 13.1% in February 2019, down 0.9 pts from 14.0% in February 2018.

The trend participation rate remained steady at 65.6% in February 2019 (January 2019 was revised down to 65.6%). The female participation rate remained steady at 60.6% and the male participation rate remained steady at 70.8%.

The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed persons. Over the past year, the trend labour force increased by 237,500 persons (1.8%). This rate of increase matched the rate of increase for the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (357,000 persons, or 1.8%).

The trend participation rate for 15-64 year olds, which controls (in part) for the effects of an ageing population, remained steady at 78.1%. The gap between male and female participation rates in this age range is less than 10 pts, at 82.7% and 73.5% 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) increased by 0.1 pts to 68.0%. The unemployment rate for this group decreased 0.1 pts to 11.2% in February 2019 and decreased by 1.1 pts 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 4,600 persons from January 2018 to February 2019. The underlying composition of the net change was a decrease of 7,300 persons in full-time employment and an increase of 11,900 persons in part-time employment. Since February 2018, full-time employment increased by 210,000 persons, while part-time employment increased by 74,000 persons.

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 3.1 million hours (or 0.2%) in February to 1,769.9 million hours.

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio decreased by 0.1 pts to 62.3% in February 2019, and increased by 0.3 pts from the same time last year.

GRAPH 1. EMPLOYMENT TO POPULATION RATIO, PERSONS, February 2009 to February 2019




The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 pts to 4.9% in February 2019, while the underemployment rate decreased by less than 0.1 pts to 8.1%, and the underutilisation rate decreased by less than 0.1 pts to 13.0%. The participation rate decreased by 0.2 pts to 65.6%.


STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

In February 2019, increases in trend employment were observed in all states and territories except Western Australia (down 1,600 persons) and South Australia (down 200 persons). The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 8,800 persons), followed by Victoria (up 8,300 persons) and Queensland (up 4,100 persons).

Over the past year, increases in employment were observed in all states except Tasmania (down 1,100 persons). Both territories recorded falls in employment (the Northern Territory down 4,200 persons and the Australian Capital Territory down 2,800 persons). The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 125,600 persons), Victoria (up 123,300 persons) and Queensland (up 30,600 persons). The highest annual employment growth rates were in Victoria at 3.8%, followed by New South Wales at 3.2% and Queensland at 1.2%. New South Wales and Victoria were the only states to have a year-on-year growth rate in trend employment above their 20 year average.

The monthly trend unemployment rate increased by 0.1 pts in Tasmania (6.3%) and decreased by 0.1 pts in Queensland (5.7%). It remained unchanged in the other states and the territories.

The monthly trend underemployment rate increased in the Northern Territory (up 0.3 pts to 5.5%) and Victoria (up 0.1 pts to 8.3%). Decreases of 0.1 pts were seen in Queensland (8.4%), South Australia (8.8%), Western Australia (8.9%) and the Australian Capital Territory (6.1%).

Increases to the trend participation rate were observed in Victoria (up 0.1 pts to 66.1%). Decreases were observed in Western Australia (down 0.2% pts to 68.0%), Queensland (down 0.1 pts to 65.2%) and the Australian Capital Territory (down 0.1 pts to 69.3%). The monthly trend participation rate remained unchanged in the other states and the Northern Territory.


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increases in employment were in Queensland (up 6,400) and Victoria (up 5,700 persons), followed by South Australia (up 3,800 persons) and Western Australia (up 2,800 persons). The largest decrease was in New South Wales (down 5,800 persons).

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased in New South Wales (up 0.3 pts to 4.3%) and Victoria (up 0.2 pts to 4.8%). Decreases were observed in Western Australia (down 0.9 pts to 5.9%), Queensland (down 0.6 pts to 5.4%), South Australia (down 0.6 pts to 5.7%) and Tasmania (down 0.5 pts to 6.5%).

The monthly underemployment rate increased in seasonally adjusted terms in Tasmania (up 0.3 pts to 9.7%), New South Wales (up 0.1 pts to 7.6%) and Victoria (up 0.1 pts to 8.3%). The largest decreases were seen in South Australia (down 0.5 pts to 8.4%), Queensland (down 0.4 pts to 8.0%) and Western Australia (down 0.4 pts to 8.7%).

The seasonally adjusted participation rate decreased in Western Australia (down 0.6 pts to 67.8%), Queensland (down 0.4 pts to 65.0%) and South Australia (down 0.2 pts to 62.4%). Victoria saw a slight increase (up 0.1 pts to 66.1%). The participation rate remained steady for the other states.

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.

TABLE 1. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, STATES AND TERRITORIES

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
January 2019
February 2019
January 2019
February 2019
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
4.2
4.2
3.9
4.3
Victoria
4.6
4.6
4.6
4.8
Queensland
5.8
5.7
6.1
5.4
South Australia
5.9
5.9
6.3
5.7
Western Australia
6.2
6.2
6.9
5.9
Tasmania
6.2
6.3
7.0
6.5
Northern Territory
4.9
4.9
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
3.5
3.5
np
np
Australia
5.0
5.0
5.0
4.9

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