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Paid Work: Aboriginal and torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Labour Force
LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION OF PEOPLE AGED 15-64 YEARS
UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG PEOPLE AGED 15-64 YEARS
LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION: PEOPLE AGED 15-64 YEARS, By Remoteness Area - 2001
LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION
Differences in the labour force participation rates of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations were evident across the regions of Australia and across age groups.
Indigenous persons aged 15-64 years had lower labour force participation rates across all Remoteness Areas. The difference was greatest in Very Remote areas, where the participation rate for Indigenous persons aged 15-64 years was the lowest in Australia (48%), while that for the non-Indigenous population was the highest (83%). In contrast to the non-Indigenous population, labour force participation among the Indigenous population tended to be lower in more remote areas than in Major cities or Inner Regional areas.
The labour force participation rate of Indigenous persons was lower than that of the non-Indigenous population for every age group. However, the pattern of participation for males and females over the life cycle was similar for both populations, with females less likely to participate in the labour force than males. Overall, Indigenous persons aged 15-64 years had a labour force participation rate of 62% for males and 46% for females, compared to 81% for non-Indigenous males and 66% for non-Indigenous females.
LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION, By sex and age - 2001
Indigenous persons continue to experience considerably higher unemployment rates than the non-Indigenous population. As noted earlier, in 2001 the unemployment rate for Indigenous persons aged 15-64 years was 20%, compared to 7.3% for the non-Indigenous population.
The unemployment rate may not reflect the full extent of the underutilisation of labour among the Indigenous population. Low labour force participation rates indicate that some Indigenous persons may be discouraged job seekers who are not looking for work because they feel they would not be able to get a job, or there are no jobs available. In addition, while participation in the CDEP scheme is counted as employment, the work is generally low skilled and part-time, and may not fulfil the desire for better paid employment for some participants.
Between 1996 and 2001, the unemployment rate among the Indigenous population aged 15-64 years fell from 23% to 20%. Over the same period, the unemployment rate among the non-Indigenous population also fell (from 9.1% to 7.3%).
In 2001, the pattern of unemployment for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations showed lower rates of unemployment in Very Remote areas. The rate for Indigenous persons was highest in Inner Regional areas (25%) and lowest in Very Remote areas (8.3%). The rate in Very Remote areas was a consequence of both the low labour force participation rate (48%), and relatively high rates of participation in CDEP (68% of employed Indigenous persons) in these regions.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATES FOR PEOPLE AGED 15-64 YEARS, By Remoteness Area - 2001
As with the non-Indigenous population, unemployment was particularly high for young Indigenous persons. Among Indigenous persons aged 15-17 years and 18-24 years, unemployment was around 15 percentage points higher than for non-Indigenous persons of the same age (32% and 27% respectively for Indigenous persons compared to 16% and 13% for non-Indigenous persons). Indigenous males aged 15-17 years experienced the highest levels of unemployment, around 34% (compared to 18% for non-Indigenous males of the same age). Unemployment declined steadily with increasing age for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons. The unemployment rate for those aged 55-64 years was 10.4% and 5.7% for Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons respectively.
Educational attainment has a major influence on the employment outcomes of both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. Although Indigenous persons had higher rates of unemployment than the non-Indigenous population for every level of educational attainment, the difference was particularly marked for people with lower levels of qualifications. For example, Indigenous persons who had not completed Year 12 had an unemployment rate more than twice as high as non-Indigenous persons with the same level of education (24% compared to 10.6%). Indigenous persons with a bachelor degree or higher qualification had an unemployment rate of 5.9%, compared to 3.3% for the non-Indigenous population.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATES FOR PEOPLE AGED 15-64 YEARS(a): HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT - 2001
With relatively low labour force participation and high unemployment, the Indigenous population aged 15-64 years had a low proportion of employed people (43%), compared with the non-Indigenous population (68%).
Lower proportions of Indigenous persons were employed than the non-Indigenous population across all Remoteness Areas. However, the pattern of employment differed for the two populations. The proportion of employed Indigenous persons was highest in Major Cities (47%), and lowest in Inner and Outer Regional areas (both around 40%).
In 2001, in non-remote areas, 68% of employed Indigenous persons aged 15-64 years worked in the private sector (compared with 83% of non-Indigenous persons), and 27% were employed in the government sector (compared with 17% of non-Indigenous persons). In Remote and Very Remote areas, around 50% and 17% respectively of employed Indigenous persons worked in the private sector, with 26% and 15% working in the government sector. In addition, the CDEP scheme provided around one-quarter (24%) and two-thirds (68%) of employment for Indigenous persons in Remote and Very Remote areas respectively.
In 2001, 45% of employed Indigenous persons worked part-time, compared to 33% of non-Indigenous persons. This is partly due to the CDEP program, as 80% of CDEP participants were employed part-time. Accordingly, part-time employment among Indigenous persons was more common in Very Remote areas (66% of employed Indigenous persons), because of the high levels of CDEP participation in these regions.
In 2001, the sources of employment were somewhat different for the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. This reflected the sorts of jobs available to people living in remote communities, as well as the differing skills bases of the two populations. The main industries for employed Indigenous persons aged 15-64 years were Government administration and defence (21% of employed people), Health and community services (12%) and Retail trade (10%). For the non-Indigenous population the main industries were Retail trade (15%), Manufacturing (12%) and Property and business services (11%).
SECTOR OF EMPLOYMENT(a): INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AGED 15-64 YEARS, By Remoteness Area - 2001
Around 68% of CDEP participants worked in Government administration and defence. This is partly because in Very Remote areas CDEP schemes tend to be managed by community councils, and persons employed under these schemes commonly have their industry of work classified as Government administration and defence. In addition, 11% of CDEP participants worked in the Personal and other services industry, and 7.3% in Health and community services.
There were some differences in the industries employing Indigenous persons across Remoteness Areas. In Major Cities and Inner Regional areas, Retail trade (12% and 13% respectively) and Health and community services (12% and 14% respectively) were the most common industries of employment. In contrast, in Very Remote areas 58% of employed Indigenous persons worked in Government administration and defence, mainly as CDEP participants.
Employment in certain industries varied across different age groups within the Indigenous population. For younger Indigenous persons, Retail trade was the main industry, employing 40% of 15-17 year olds and 14% of 18-24 year olds. In addition, Accommodation, cafes and restaurants employed around 6% of both these age groups. Indigenous persons aged 25-64 years had higher levels of employment in industries such as Health and community services (14%) and Education (10%), compared to non-Indigenous persons in the same age group (11% and 8.2% respectively).
SELECTED INDUSTRIES AMONG EMPLOYED PEOPLE AGED 15-64 YEARS - 2001
Indigenous persons are more likely to be employed in lower skill occupations than the non-Indigenous population. In 2001, almost two-thirds (63%) of employed Indigenous persons were working in the two lowest skill occupation groups (see Australian Social Trends 2004, Work: definitions, pp. 106-107 for definitions of skill groups), compared with 44% of the non-Indigenous population.This pattern is consistent with relatively low levels of educational attainment among the Indigenous population and the types of jobs available in more remote areas of Australia, including under CDEP. Of Indigenous CDEP participants identified in the census, 86% were engaged in low skill occupations, compared to 58% of Indigenous persons in non-CDEP employment. Reflecting the high levels of CDEP participation in Very Remote areas, 79% of Indigenous persons employed in these regions were engaged in low skill occupations.
The main occupation group for the Indigenous population was Labourers and related workers (25%), while for the non-Indigenous population it was Professionals (19%). However, similar proportions of both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations were employed as Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers (19% and 17% respectively). Employment in low skill occupations was a contributing factor to the lower incomes of the Indigenous population (see Australian Social Trends 2004, Incomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, pp. 146-150).
1 Ross, Kate 1999, Population Issues, Indigenous Australians, 1996, cat. no. 4708.0, ABS, Canberra.
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