6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, May 2016 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/06/2016   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY MAY 2016


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

Australia's trend estimate of employment increased by 3,700 persons in May 2016, with:

  • the number of unemployed persons decreasing by 2,200;
  • the unemployment rate remained steady at 5.7 per cent;
  • the participation rate decreasing 0.1 percentage points to 64.8 per cent; and
  • the employment to population ratio remained steady at 61.1 per cent.

Over the past 12 months, trend employment increased by 217,000 (or 1.9%), which was above the average year-on-year growth over the last 20 years of 1.8%. As a result, trend employment to population ratio, which is a measure of how employed the population is, increased from 60.9 to 61.1 per cent.

The trend employment increase of 3,700 persons between April and May 2016 represents a monthly growth rate of 0.03%, which is below the monthly average over the past 20 years of 0.15%. While trend employment growth was above the 20 year average from December 2014 to December 2015, the rate of growth in employment for the past five months has been below this average.

The sustained trend in part-time employment growth continued from February 2016 into April 2016, with the 12,600 increase being the eleventh consecutive increase of more than 10,000 persons. In contrast, trend full-time employment decreased by 8,900 persons, its forth consecutive decrease.

Trend monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased 2.3 million hours (0.1%) in May 2016 to 1,632.1 million hours. This was the fifth consecutive decrease in monthly hours worked in all jobs, which reflects a cumulative decrease of 13.7 million hours (0.8%) from the series peak at December 2015.

Unemployment decreased by 39,700 (or 5.2%) from May 2015, with the trend unemployment rate decreasing from 6.1 per cent to 5.7 per cent over the same period.

The quarterly underutilisation time series are released as part of the February, May, August and November releases. The trend underutilisation rate (which includes both unemployment and underemployment) remained steady at 14.2%, reflecting the relatively unchanged unemployment and underemployment rates over the quarter to May.

The trend underutilisation rate for females decreased 0.2 percentage points to 16.2 per cent, reflecting decreases in both unemployment and underemployment. The trend underemployment ratio of employed females (as per spreadsheets Table 22 and Table 23) has fallen 0.6 percentage points since its historical high of 11.5 per cent in February 2015, down to 10.9 per cent in May 2016.

The trend underutilisation rate for males was unchanged at 12.4 per cent, reflecting a slight decrease in the unemployment rate for males and a slight increase in underemployment. The trend underemployment ratio of employed males is currently at a historical high of 7.2 per cent.

MEASURES OF UNDERUTILISATION, PERSONS, TREND, May 2006 to May 2016
Graph: MEASURES OF UNDERUTILISATION, PERSONS, TREND, May 2006 to May 2016


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

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May 2016 was unchanged at 5.7 per cent and the labour force participation rate was unchanged at 64.8 per cent.

Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 17,900, with a male full-time employment increase of 17,000 and female part-time employment increase of 17,900, largely offset by a decrease in female full-time employment of 17,000.

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs increased 27.7 million hours (1.7%) in May 2016 to 1,643.1 million hours.

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio remained steady at 61.1% in May 2016.

Employment to population ratio, Persons, May 2006 to May 2016
Graph: Employment to population ratio, Persons, May 2006 to May 2016


The seasonally adjusted underutilisation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 14.2 per cent.


STATE ESTIMATES

Trend employment in May 2016 was strongest in Victoria (up 5,500 persons) and New South Wales (up 3,600 persons). The largest decrease was in Queensland (down 5,000 persons).

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increases in employment in May 2016 were in New South Wales (up 29,600 persons) and Victoria (up 3,400 persons). The States with the largest decrease in seasonally adjusted employment were South Australia (down 11,500 persons) and Queensland (down 1,700 persons).

There was an increase in the trend unemployment rate in Queensland (up 0.1 percentage point). The decreases were in Australian Capital Territory (down 0.2 percentage points), Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory (all down 0.1 percentage point) and were relatively unchanged in New South Wales and South Australia.

The only decrease in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was in New South Wales (down 0.1 percentage points). There were increases in Victoria, Tasmania (both up 0.2 percentage points), South Australia, Western Australia (both up 0.1 percentage points) and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was relatively unchanged in Queensland.

The trend participation rate decreased in Australian Capital Territory (down 0.2 percentage points), Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania (all down 0.1 percentage points). The largest increase was in Northern Territory (up 0.2 percentage points), and was relatively unchanged in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

There were decreases in the seasonally adjusted participation rates in South Australia (down 0.8 percentage points), Queensland (down 0.2 percentage points) and Tasmania (down 0.1 percentage points). The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted participation rate was in New South Wales (up 0.4 percentage points).

Unemployment rate, States and Territories - April 2016 and May 2016

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
April
May
April
May
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
5.3
5.3
5.3
5.2
Victoria
5.8
5.7
5.6
5.8
Queensland
6.3
6.4
6.5
6.4
South Australia
7.0
6.9
6.8
6.9
Western Australia
5.6
5.6
5.6
5.7
Tasmania
6.6
6.5
6.3
6.5
Northern Territory
4.2
4.1
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
3.9
3.8
np
np
Australia
5.7
5.7
5.7
5.7

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


The trend underutilisation rate increased in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia (all up 0.1 percentage points). There were decreases in the Australian Capital Territory (down 0.4 percentage points), Victoria, Tasmania (both down 0.3 percentage points) and South Australia (down 0.1 percentage points).

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the territories and the ABS recommends using trend estimates to analyse the underlying behaviour of the series.