6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, May 2015 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/06/2015   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY MAY 2015


MAY 2015 ESTIMATES

In compiling this month's estimates the ABS identified that the growth in employment for Western Australia, in original terms, was unparalleled compared to previous May results. Investigations showed that a significant contributor to this was change in response patterns from April to May 2015. As a result, the ABS has removed this impact from the seasonally adjusted estimates for Western Australia and subsequently, Australia. As the ABS is unable to remove this impact from the original estimates, care should be taken in comparing the original and seasonally adjusted estimates, particularly for Western Australia.

The ABS has not made any changes to its Labour Force Survey methods or processes that could have caused the increase. Estimates derived from sample surveys will occasionally be subject to significant statistical volatility. The ABS is continuing to investigate sampling and estimation options to reduce the volatility in surveys like the Labour Force.


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

Australia's unemployment rate decreased 0.2 percentage points (based on unrounded estimates) to 6.0% in May 2015 (seasonally adjusted) with:

  • the number of unemployed persons decreasing by 22,000 to 745,200
  • the number of employed persons increasing by 42,000 to 11,759,600, and
  • the participation rate was unchanged at 64.7%, from a revised April 2015 estimate.

The seasonally adjusted underemployment rate was 8.5% in May 2015, unchanged from February 2015. Combined with the May 2015 unemployment rate of 6.0%, the latest seasonally adjusted estimate of total labour force underutilisation was 14.5%, a decrease of 0.4 percentage points from February 2015. In trend terms, the underemployment rate was unchanged at 8.5% in May 2015 and total labour force underutilisation decreased 0.1 percentage points to 14.7%.

In trend terms the unemployment rate decreased less than 0.1 percentage points to 6.0% in May 2015. The number of employed persons in May 2015 increased by 15,700 to 11,747,200 and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 3,400 to 756,300 in trend terms. The trend participation rate was unchanged at 64.8% in May 2015.

The employment to population ratio, which expresses the number of employed persons as a percentage of the civilian population aged 15 years and over, increased 0.1 percentage points (based on unrounded estimates) to 60.9% (seasonally adjusted) in May 2015. In trend terms, the employment to population ratio was unchanged at 60.8%.

Employment to population ratio, Persons, December 2013 to May 2015
Graph: Employment to population ratio, Persons, December 2013 to May 2015


Seasonally adjusted full-time employment increased by 14,700 persons to 8,128,600 persons while part-time employment increased by 27,300 to 3,630,900 persons in May 2015. The increase in total employment resulted from:
  • an increase in female part-time employment, up 29,800 persons
  • an increase in male full-time employment, up 15,900 persons
  • a decrease in female full-time employment, down 1,200 persons
  • a decrease in male part-time employment, down 2,400 persons.

Seasonally adjusted aggregate monthly hours worked increased 2.2 million hours (0.1%) in May 2015 to 1,631.8 million hours.


STATE ESTIMATES

The largest absolute increases in seasonally adjusted employment were in Queensland (up 18,700 persons) and New South Wales (up 15,300 persons).

The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted participation rate was in South Australia (up 0.4 percentage points), while the largest decrease was in Tasmania (down 0.3 percentage points).

The largest decreases in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate were in Western Australia (down 0.5 percentage points), Queensland (down 0.3 percentage points) and Tasmania (down 0.3 percentage points). The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was in South Australia (up 0.4 percentage points). The ABS recommends using trend estimates to analyse the underlying behaviour of the series.

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the territories.

Unemployment rate, States and Territories, April 2015 and May 2015

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
April
May
April
May
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
5.9
5.9
5.9
5.7
Victoria
6.0
6.0
6.1
6.0
Queensland
6.5
6.5
6.6
6.3
South Australia
7.1
7.2
7.2
7.6
Western Australia
5.5
5.4
5.6
5.1
Tasmania
6.9
7.0
7.3
7.0
Northern Territory
4.4
4.5
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
4.3
4.3
np
np
Australia
6.1
6.0
6.1
6.0

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



GROSS FLOWS

Gross flows (Table 17) highlight the change in labour force status of individuals between last month and this month. Gross flows are derived from the sample that is common between two consecutive months which, after taking account of sample rotation and varying non-response each month, is approximately 80% of the sample. However, the level and movement estimates produced from the Gross flows will not necessarily represent 80% of the level and movement estimates in a given month from the whole sample. Despite this limitation, analysis of the gross flows data can provide an indication, in original terms, of underlying movements in the labour market.

In original terms between April and May 2015 the number of persons employed increased by 74,100 with gross flows showing a net increase of 92,900. The increase shown in the gross flows comprised:
  • 232,000 persons whose status changed from not in the labour force to employed,
  • 137,400 persons whose status changed from unemployed to employed,
  • 73,000 persons whose status changed from employed to unemployed, and
  • 203,500 persons whose status changed from employed to not in the labour force.

In original terms between April and May 2015 the number of persons unemployed decreased by 34,700 with gross flows showing a net decrease of 41,900. The decrease shown in the gross flows comprised:
  • 137,400 persons whose status changed from unemployed to employed,
  • 125,700 persons whose status changed from unemployed to not in the labour force,
  • 73,000 persons whose status changed from employed to unemployed, and
  • 148,200 persons whose status changed from not in the labour force to unemployed.

As the gross flows data are presented in original terms they are not directly comparable to the seasonally adjusted and trend data discussed elsewhere in the commentary.