6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Jan 2018 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/02/2018   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY JANUARY 2018


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

Australia's trend estimate of employment increased by 23,000 persons in January 2018, with:

  • the number of unemployed persons increasing by 2,600 persons;
  • the unemployment rate remained steady at 5.5 per cent;
  • the participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 65.6 per cent; and
  • the employment to population ratio remained steady at 62.0 per cent.

Over the past year, trend employment increased by 394,900 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 62.0 per cent.

In monthly terms, trend employment increased by 23,000 persons between December 2017 and January 2018. This represents an increase of 0.19 per cent, which is above the average monthly growth rate over the past 20 years of 0.16 per cent.

Trend full-time employment increased by 8,800 persons between December 2017 and January 2018, and part-time employment increased by 14,200 persons. Compared to a year ago, there are 292,100 more persons employed full-time and 102,800 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 1.2 million hours (or 0.07 per cent) between December 2017 and January 2018, to 1,727.0 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 138.8 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, after the December 2017 number was revised up to 5.5 per cent. The number of unemployed persons increased by 2,600 persons to 720,200 persons.

The trend participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 65.6 per cent between December 2017 and January 2018, the highest rate since February 2011. The male participation rate remained at 70.9 per cent whilst the female participation rate increased to a further historical high of 60.5 per cent.

The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed persons. Over the past year, the labour force has increased by 376,900 persons (2.9 per cent). This rate of increase was above the rate of increase for the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (319,500 persons, or 1.6 per cent).

The trend participation rate for 15-64 year olds, which controls (in part) for the effects of an ageing population, remained steady for a second consecutive month at 78.0 per cent in January 2018 after the December 2017 number was revised up. 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 82.9 and 73.2 per cent, continuing the long term convergence of male and female participation.

The trend participation rate for 15-24 year olds remained steady for a second consecutive month at 67.5 per cent in January 2018 after the December 2017 number was revised up. The unemployment rate for this group decreased by less than 0.1 percentage points to 12.2 per cent in January 2018 and decreased by 0.8 percentage points over the year.

The trend series smoothes 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 16,000 persons from December 2017 to January 2018. The underlying composition of the net change was a decrease of 49,800 persons in full-time employment and a 65,900 increase in part-time employment. Since January 2017, full-time employment has increased by 293,200 persons, while part-time employment has increased by 110,100 persons.

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 24.1 million hours (or 1.4 per cent) between December 2017 and January 2018 to 1,708.2 million hours. This follows a decrease of 8.6 million hours (or 0.5 per cent) from November to December 2017, and four consecutive increases up to November.

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio remained steady at 62.0 per cent for a second consecutive month in January 2018, representing an increase of 1.0 percentage point from the same time last year.

Graph 1, Employment to population ratio, Persons, January 2008 to January 2018
Graph: Graph 1, Employment to population ratio, Persons, January 2008 to January 2018


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 5.5 per cent in January 2018. The participation rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 65.6 per cent.


STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

In January 2018, increases in trend employment were observed in all states and territories. The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 7,600 persons) and Victoria (up 4,400 persons). The largest percentage increase was in the Australian Capital Territory at 0.3 per cent followed by New South Wales and the Northern Territory at 0.2 per cent, with all other states at 0.1 per cent.

Over the past year, increases in employment were also observed in all states and territories except Northern Territory (down 4,300 persons). The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 136,900 persons), Queensland (up 110,400 persons) and Victoria (up 90,200 persons). The highest annual employment growth rates were in the Australian Capital Territory (4.8 per cent), followed by Queensland (4.7 per cent) and New South Wales (3.6 per cent).

An increase in the trend unemployment rate was seen in New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory (all up 0.1 percentage points). The unemployment rate dropped in Tasmania (down 0.1 percentage points) and was unchanged in all other states and territories.

The largest increase in the trend participation rate was in the Australian Capital Territory (up 0.3 percentage points) followed by the Northern Territory (up 0.2 percentage points).


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in Queensland (up 19,700 persons) followed by South Australia (up 5,300 persons) and Victoria (up 2,100 persons). The largest decrease was observed in New South Wales (down 21,200 persons), followed by Western Australia (down 8,900 persons).

The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was in New South Wales (up 0.3 percentage points). Queensland and South Australia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rates increased by 0.1 percentage points. Tasmania and Victoria saw decreases in their seasonally adjusted unemployment rates (down 0.8 and 0.5 percentage points respectively) while Western Australia remained unchanged.

The seasonally adjusted participation rate increased in Queensland and South Australia (0.5 and 0.4 percentage points respectively). The largest decrease was in Tasmania (down 0.7 percentage points).

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.

Table 1, Unemployment rate, States and Territories

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
December
January
December
January
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
4.8
4.8
4.8
5.1
Victoria
5.7
5.7
6.1
5.6
Queensland
5.9
6.0
6.0
6.1
South Australia
5.9
6.0
5.9
6.0
Western Australia
6.0
6.0
5.7
5.7
Tasmania
5.8
5.7
6.1
5.3
Northern Territory
4.7
4.6
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
3.9
4.0
np
np
Australia
5.5
5.5
5.6
5.5

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