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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY February 2020
Over the past year, trend employment increased by 241,300 people (or 1.9%), which was the less than the average annual growth rate over the past 20 years of 2.0%. Over the same 12 months, the trend employment to population ratio, which is a measure of how employed the population (aged 15 years and over) is, increased by 0.2 percentage points (pts) to 62.6%.
Trend employment increased by 21,100 people (0.16%) between January 2020 and February 2020. This was the same as the monthly average growth rate over the past 20 years.
Underpinning these net changes in employment is extensive dynamic change, which occurs each month in the labour market. In recent months there has been more than 300,000 people entering and leaving employment. There is also further dynamic change in the hours that people work, which results in changes in the full-time and part-time composition of employment.
Trend full-time employment increased by 13,300 people between January 2020 and February 2020, and part-time employment increased by 7,800 people. Compared to a year ago, there are 132,500 more people employed full-time and 108,800 more people employed part-time. This compositional change has led to an increase in the part-time share of employment over the past 12 months, from 31.4% to 31.7%.
The trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 0.7 million hours (0.0%) to 1779.3 million hours in February 2020. Over the past year, monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 0.8%, below the 1.9% increase in employed people. In February 2020, the average hours worked per employed person was around 136.8 hours per month or around 31.5 hours per week.
The trend unemployment rate remained steady at 5.1%, after January 2020 was revised from 5.2% to 5.1%. The number of unemployed people decreased by 1,300 in February 2020 to 698,900 people, and increased by 20,000 people since February 2019.
The trend participation rate remained steady at 66.0% in February 2020, and was 0.3 pts higher than in February 2019. Female participation increased to a record high of 61.3%.
The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed people. Over the past 12 months, the labour force increased by 261,400 people (1.9%), which was above the rate of increase for the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (1.5%).
The trend participation rate for 15-64 year olds, which controls (in part) for the effects of an aging population, increased by less than 0.1 pts to 78.8%. The gap between male and female participation rates in this age group was less than 9 pts, at 83.2% and 74.4% respectively, continuing the long term convergence of male and female participation.
The trend participation rate for 15-24 year olds (who are often referred to as the "youth" group in the labour market) increased by 0.1 pts to 68.6%. The unemployment rate for this group increased 0.1 pts to 12.0% in February 2020, and increased by 0.5 pts since February 2019.
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
Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 26,700 people in February 2020 to 13,015,100 people. The underlying composition of the net change was an increase of 6,700 people in full-time employment and an increase of 20,000 people in part-time employment. Since February 2019, full-time employment increased by 144,300 people, while part-time employment increased by 111,900 people.
Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 3.0 million hours (or 0.2%) in February 2020 to 1,775.4 million hours.
The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio remained steady at 62.6% in February 2020, and increased by 0.3 pts since February 2019.
GRAPH 1. EMPLOYMENT TO POPULATION RATIO, PEOPLE, February 2010 to February 2020
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 pts to 5.1% in February 2020. The participation rate decreased by 0.1 pts to 66.0%.
STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES
In February 2020, increases in employment were observed in most states and territories, notably Queensland (up 6,700 people), New South Wales (up 3,600 people) and Victoria (up 2,700 people).The only decrease was recorded in South Australia (down 100 people) where the number of employed people has declined in that state every month since June 2019.
Over the past year, increases in employment were observed in all states and territories except South Australia (down 1,600 people). The largest increases were in Victoria (up 77,000 people), Queensland (up 61,400 people), and New South Wales (up 49,300 people). The highest annual employment growth rates were in Tasmania at 4.5%, followed by Australian Capital Territory at 4.3% and Queensland at 2.5%. The annual trend employment growth rates in Queensland, Tasmania, and Australian Capital Territory were above their respective 20 year average annual growth rates in trend employment.
The monthly trend unemployment rate increased by 0.1 pts in Victoria (5.2%). The monthly trend unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 pts in Queensland (5.7%), South Australia (5.8%) and Tasmania (5.5%).
The monthly trend participation rate increased by 0.3 pts in the Northern Territory (75.4%), by 0.2 pts in Tasmania (61.7%), and by 0.1 pts in Australian Capital Territory (71.1%). The monthly trend participation rate decreased by 0.1 pts in the South Australia (62.3%).
SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES
In February 2020, the largest increases in employment were recorded in Queensland (up 14,300 people), Western Australia (up 10,900 people), and Tasmania (up 4,000). Victoria was the only state or territory recording a decrease in employment (down 8,800).
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.1 pts in New South Wales (4.6%) and 0.1 pts in South Australia (5.8%). The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by 0.8 pts in Tasmania (5.0%) and by 0.6 pts in both Queensland (5.6%) and Western Australia (5.2%).
The seasonally adjusted participation rate increased by 0.4 pts in Tasmania (61.7%) and by 0.2 pts in South Australia (62.3%). The seasonally adjusted participation rate decreased by 0.4 pts in Victoria (66.4%) and 0.2 pts in Queensland (65.8%).
Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.
TABLE 1. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, STATES AND TERRITORIES
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