1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012
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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.
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The labour force represents the key official measure of the total supply of labour available to the labour market during a given short reference period. It represents the labour available for the production of economic goods and services. Therefore, people in the labour force are also referred to as the 'currently economically active population'.
The Australian labour force framework classifies people into three mutually exclusive categories Employed, Unemployed and Not in the labour force. The employed and unemployed categories together make up the labour force, which gives a measure of the number of people contributing to the used or unused supply of available labour. The third category (not in the labour force) represents the currently economically inactive population. This framework is illustrated in diagram 8.2. Further details about the Australian labour force framework, and the specific criteria for classifying people to these three basic categories, are available in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (6102.0.55.001).
For the purpose of compiling Australian labour force statistics, the population is restricted to people in the civilian population aged 15 years and over. This practice is consistent with international guidelines for the collection of labour statistics.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LABOUR FORCE
The size and composition of the labour force are constantly changing. Changes in the size of the labour force are caused by changes in labour force participation as well as changes in the size and composition of the adult population. Between June 2010 and June 2011, the labour force grew by 1.7%. During the same period, the civilian population aged 15 years and over grew by 1.5%. The difference between these two growth rates reflects an increase in the labour force participation rate over this period.
The labour force participation rate is one of the most important indicators for analysing the overall level of labour market activity. The participation rate is calculated by dividing the total number of people in the labour force by the total number of people in the civilian population aged 15 years and over. Analysis of participation rates, particularly by age, sex and family type, provides the basis for monitoring changes in the size and composition of the labour supply, including reflecting changes in the underlying civilian population.
During the last two decades, the overall labour force participation rate has increased slowly, rising from 64% in 1990–91 to 66% in 2010–11. The long-term rise in the labour force participation rate has been driven by an increase in the female participation rate. The female participation rate increased from 52% in 1990–91 to 59% in 2010–11. In contrast, the male participation rate decreased from 75% to 73% over the same period. Graph 8.3 shows male and female participation rates between 1990–91 and 2010–11, and illustrates a narrowing of the gap between male and female participation rates over this period.
A comparison of age-specific participation rates for females shows that between 1990–91 and 2010–11, labour force participation rates increased for all age groups except the 20–24 year age group. While over the last 20 years there has been a considerable increase in the labour force participation of females in their peak child-bearing years (the 25–34 year age group), the largest increases have been in the participation of older females. Between 1990–91 and 2010–11, the participation rate of females aged 55–64 years increased by 29 percentage points and for females aged 45–54 years by 16 percentage points.
Participation rates for males declined between 1990–91 and 2010–11 for most age groups. The exceptions were for those aged 55–64 years (63% to 72%) and those aged 65 years and over (9% to 16%).
When looking at changes in participation rates for particular age groups over time, consideration needs to be given to underlying population changes. For example, those aged 25–34 years in 1990–91 would be in the 45–54 year age group in 2010–11. Life cycle impacts on labour force participation at certain ages is also a relevant consideration.
During the period 2006–07 to 2010–11, the total number of employed people grew by 9% to 11.4 million (table 8.5). This comprised an increase of 7% in the number of full-time employed and an increase of 14% in the number of part-time employed. Part-time employed people represented almost a third (30%) of all employed people in 2010–11. Females accounted for the majority of the part-time workforce (70% of all part-time workers).
The unemployment rate rose from 4.5% in 2006–07 to 5.1% in 2010–11. The unemployment rate for females was higher than for males in 2010–11 (5.4% compared with 4.8%).
8.5 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a)
Labour force participation, employment and unemployment vary across states and territories, and across capital cities and regional areas. Table 8.6 shows labour force status by state/territory and capital city/balance of state for 2010–11.
In 2010–11, of the states and territories, Tasmania had the lowest participation rate (61%) while the Australian Capital Territory had the highest participation rate (73%). The Northern Territory had the lowest unemployment rate (2.9%) and Tasmania had the highest unemployment rate (5.6%).
All states had lower unemployment rates and higher participation rates in the capital cities than in the balance of states, except South Australia, where in Adelaide the unemployment rate was higher than in the balance of South Australia.
8.6 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), By state and territory—2010–11
In 2010–11, there were 12.0 million people in the Australian labour force, of whom over a quarter (27%) were born overseas (table 8.7). The labour force participation rate of people born overseas was 62% compared with 69% for people born in Australia. This, in part, reflects the older age distribution of the overseas born population in Australia.
Table 8.8 provides an overview of the labour force status of people in 2010–11, according to the family relationship within the household. For partners in couple families with dependants present, husbands (or male partners) had a higher participation rate (93%) and lower unemployment rate (2.4%) than wives (or female partners) (69% and 3.7% respectively). Of the partners who were employed, a higher proportion of males were employed full-time (89%) than females (53%). For lone parents with dependants, the participation rate of male parents (80%) was higher and the unemployment rate lower (8%) than female parents (65% and 10% respectively).
On average, parents in a couple relationship with dependent children have higher participation and unemployment rates than those without dependent children (81% participation compared with 61% and 3.0% unemployment compared to 2.7%), mostly due to the younger ages of parents with dependants. Lone parents with dependent children also had higher participation and unemployment rates than those without dependent children (67% participation compared with 46% and 10% unemployment compared to 4.6%), again mainly attributable to the younger ages of parents with dependants.
Non-dependent children had high participation and unemployment rates (84% and 10% respectively), whereas dependent students had a higher unemployment rate (14%) and a much lower participation rate (50%), reflecting their student status, with almost half of this population (50%) not in the labour force.
8.8 LABOUR FORCE STATUS(a), By relationship in household—2010–11