Jobs growth over the past 25 years

Released
10/12/2019

In today’s release the ABS has published historical Labour Account data that extends the comprehensive picture of the Australian Labour market from September 2019 to September 1994. A 25 year time series of data is now available for all four Labour Account quadrants (Jobs, Persons, Labour Volume and Labour Payments). This allows for longer time series analysis of the number of jobs, the number of employed persons, hours worked and income, all within one coherent framework.

This spotlight provides a series of summary snapshots of the Australian labour market over the past 25 years, primarily focusing on the Jobs quadrant, which provides statistics on numbers of jobs both filled and vacant, as well as main and secondary jobs.

All data are seasonally adjusted, unless otherwise noted.

Filled jobs

Total jobs in Australia increased by 64.6% during the period between September 1994 and September 2019, with an increase in filled jobs of 63.6%. The Health care and social assistance industry experienced the largest increase in filled jobs during this period, with an industry share of 13% in September 2019. Manufacturing had the largest fall in its industry share of filled jobs (by 7 percentage points) with a fall of around 270,000 filled jobs.

Table 1 - Industry share filled jobs

 Sep-94
(%)
Sep-19
(%)
Agriculture, forestry and fishing (A)6.13.2
Mining (B)
0.9
1.3
Manufacturing (C)
13.4
6.3
Electricity, gas, water and waste services (D)
0.9
0.9
Construction (E)
6.1
8.0
Wholesale trade (F)
4.7
4.1
Retail trade (G)
10.6
9.7
Accommodation and food services (H)
7.4
7.9
Transport, postal and warehousing (I)
5.0
4.9
Information media and telecommunications (J)
1.9
1.2
Financial and insurance services (K)
4.4
3.1
Rental, hiring and real estate services (L)
1.6
2.1
Professional, scientific and technical services (M)
4.7
8.7
Administrative and support services (N)
3.3
6.5
Public administration and safety (O) 
6.5
5.4
Education and training (P)
7.3
7.9
Health care and social assistance (Q)
8.6
13.0
Arts and recreation services (R)
1.6
1.7
Other services (S)
4.9
4.0
 
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The graph below shows the trajectory of filled jobs for the five industries that recorded the highest number of filled jobs in September 2019. Filled jobs have experienced steady growth over the period for all of these industries. However, over the recent years growth rates have slowed for Accommodation and food services, Construction and Retail trade industries. See Wholesale trade and Retail trade: a comparison for a more in-depth analysis of the Retail trade industry.

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Over the past two decades, there has been a noticeable divergence between the number of filled jobs in goods and services industries (Footnote 1) in Australia. Since 2008, growth in filled jobs in goods industries has been relatively limited, while growth in filled jobs in services industries has shown a positive trend. The share of filled jobs changed from being almost equally split between goods and services industries in September 1994, to evolve to around 39% of jobs in goods industries and 61% in service industries in September 2019, reflecting considerable structural change in the economy.

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Job vacancies

Job vacancies have trended upwards throughout the time series, as the economy has expanded, reaching their highest level in March 2019 and falling afterwards.

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A comparison of the Proportion of Vacant Jobs (PVJ) for the five industries with the highest number of filled jobs shows that the Professional, scientific and technical services industry has generally had the highest PVJ of the large industries. The PVJ for Health care and social assistance has noticeably increased since September 2014, reaching a peak in June 2019 and slightly falling in September 2019.

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​​​​​​​Secondary jobs

The published secondary jobs data in the Labour Account for any given industry identifies the number of jobs in the industry that were worked as secondary jobs (as distinct from main jobs). In September 2019, secondary jobs in the Administrative and support services industry was triple the number of secondary jobs in September 1994, highlighting the increasing trend towards secondary jobs being worked in that industry, in addition to the overall growth in jobs. Other industries where secondary jobs doubled during this period include Health care and social assistance, Construction, Wholesale trade, and Rental, hiring and real estate services.

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​​​​​​​Multiple job holders

Multiple job holders data in the Labour Account provides an insight into the number of employed persons who work in more than one job. Over the past 25 years, the number of multiple job holders increased steadily, reaching its peak in March 2019.

The graph below shows the ratio of multiple job holders at the total economy level and for industries with the highest number of multiple job holders in September 2019. Calculated as the proportion of main job holders, it indicates that prior to September 2014, people whose main job was in Education were most likely to work in more than one job compared to those with their main jobs in other industries.

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​​​​​​​Hours worked

Hours worked and filled jobs have both increased steadily over time. Of the five highest employing industries, the Professional, scientific and technical services industry recorded the highest growth in hours worked, followed by the Health care and social assistance and Construction.

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​​​​​​​Compensation of Employees

Compensation of Employees (COE) has increased over the time series, with different growth rates across the industries. The Professional, scientific and technical services industry generally had the highest growth in COE over the period, though it was overtaken by the Health care and social assistance industry in the December 2018 and June 2019 quarters. Accommodation and food services had the lowest growth in COE compared to the other highest employing industries during the period between 2004 and 2015, with slower growth in the Retail trade and Construction industries also evident in recent years.

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Public and private sector data

The recently published public and private sector data in the Labour Account provides insight into the number of filled jobs by sector by industry. Sector data are available from the Labour Account from the September quarter 2010 onwards. Since the September quarter 2010, public sector jobs increased by 198,100 (or 10.4%) jobs, compared to 1.9 million (or 18.4%) jobs in the private sector. See Public sector’s share of jobs decreases over the past nine years for more information.

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​​​​​​​The value of the Labour Account

The historical Labour Account data provides an overarching picture of the Australian labour market over the past 25 years. This rich data source can be used for industry analysis of labour growth and performance in terms of people, jobs, hours, labour costs and income to better understand how the Australian labour market has evolved over time.

Footnotes

  1. Goods industries include: Agriculture, forestry and fishing, Mining (B), Manufacturing (C), Electricity, gas, water and waste services (D), Construction (E), Wholesale trade (F), Retail trade (G) and Transport, postal and warehousing (I)
    Services industries include: Accommodation and food services (H), Information media and telecommunications (J), Financial and insurance services (K), Rental, hiring and real estate services (L), Professional, scientific and technical services (M), Administrative and support services (N), Public administration and safety (O), Education and training (P), Health care and social assistance (Q), Arts and recreation services (R) and Other services (S)
  2. The Job Vacancies Survey was suspended for five periods between August 2008 and August 2009 inclusive. Although the ABS has used econometric modelling techniques using a full-time equivalent flow series to estimate total job vacancies for the missing period, the modelled data are not part of the Job Vacancies Survey series and are not available in the related publication or the Australian Labour Account
  3. Indexed to show relative changes in the series using September 1994 as the base year