2077.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Counts, 2006-2011 Quality Declaration 
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CHANGES IN LABOUR FORCE STATUS

INTRODUCTION

This chapter compares labour force outcomes for people aged 15 years and over by Remoteness Areas, age and sex using Census data. When there is a large increase in Census counts for a population it is useful to understand how this may have impacted on characteristics such as labour force status.

Note that it is important to distinguish between Census labour force data and the monthly labour force statistics that are released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The monthly labour force statistics are Australia's official measure of unemployment, with data collected by interview over an eight month period from a sample of the civilian population aged 15 years and over. Labour force estimates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not available from the monthly Labour Force Survey. The 2011 Census collected labour force information from all persons in Australia aged 15 years and over who were counted on Census night.


SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

  • There were only small changes between 2006 and 2011 in the employment to population ratio (down 1.8 percentage points), labour force participation rate (down 1.2 percentage points) and unemployment rate (up 1.5 percentage points) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over nationally.
  • The pattern of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's labour force status by age did not differ significantly between 2006 and 2011. The changes in the proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over who were employed, unemployed or not in the labour force followed expected labour force changes associated with age.
  • Changes in key labour market indicators were greater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men than women. The employment to population ratio declined by three percentage points, the labour force participation rate declined by two percentage points and the unemployment rate increased by two percentage points for men, while the corresponding changes for women were less than one percentage point.

OVERVIEW OF LABOUR FORCE STATUS

Labour force reporting commonly focuses on people aged 15 years and over, or 15-64 years when comparing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population with the non-Indigenous population.

Key labour market indicators include employment to population ratios, labour force participation rates and unemployment rates. Each of these rates is derived using the labour force status (employed, unemployed or not in the labour force) of people as reported in the Census. Each rate is calculated as follows:
  • the employment to population ratio is the number of people who have stated they are employed expressed as a percentage of the total population
  • the labour force participation rate is the number of people who have stated they are employed or unemployed expressed as a percentage of the total population
  • the unemployment rate is the number of people who have stated they are unemployed expressed as a percentage of the total labour force.
In each case, people whose labour force status has not been stated are included in the total population figure for these calculations.

In this chapter, comparisons of people's labour force status between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses exclude people whose labour force status was not stated. In 2011, labour force status was unknown for 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over, down from 6% in 2006. Caution should be used when drawing conclusions for populations which have high proportions of not stated responses, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over living in remote and very remote areas where the labour force status was unknown for 7% in 2011. High proportions of not stated responses limit the reliability of known responses in those populations as it is unclear how people whose labour force status has not been stated may affect changes in the labour market outcomes.

LABOUR FORCE STATUS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a)

Known labour force status(b)
Labour force status not stated
Total
no.
%
no.
%
no.

2006 Census

Remoteness Area(c)
Major Cities
87 881
95.1
4 533
4.9
92 414
Inner Regional
56 971
95.3
2 791
4.7
59 762
Outer Regional
56 822
93.8
3 744
6.2
60 566
Remote
22 889
91.2
2 220
8.8
25 109
Very Remote
41 125
91.7
3 700
8.3
44 825
Total(a)
266 752
94.0
17 159
6.0
283 911
Male
127 996
93.6
8 702
6.4
136 698
Female
138 756
94.3
8 457
5.7
147 213
Total(a)
266 752
94.0
17 159
6.0
283 911

2011 Census

Remoteness Area(c)
Major Cities
117 358
96.3
4 551
3.7
121 909
Inner Regional
72 156
96.3
2 768
3.7
74 924
Outer Regional
71 164
95.4
3 440
4.6
74 604
Remote
24 566
92.8
1 904
7.2
26 470
Very Remote
47 360
92.9
3 647
7.1
51 007
Total(a)
334 057
95.1
17 224
4.9
351 281
Sex
Male
161 127
94.9
8 685
5.1
169 812
Female
172 930
95.3
8 539
4.7
181 469
Total(a)
334 057
95.1
17 224
4.9
351 281

(a) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.
(b) Includes employed, unemployed and not in the labour force.
(c) Remoteness Areas are described in Statistical Geography Fact Sheet: Remoteness Structure.

Ideally, comparisons between 2006 and 2011 labour force outcomes should be measuring change in outcomes for the same population over time. However, the ability to accurately measure this change can potentially be masked by the unexpectedly large increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over recorded in the 2011 Census (24% or 67,400). If the people who contributed to this increase have different labour market characteristics to those people who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2006, then this may be driving the changes observed rather than real changes in labour market outcomes between 2006 and 2011.


NATIONAL LABOUR FORCE OUTCOMES

According to the Census, the national employment to population ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over decreased by two percentage points (from 46% to 44%) between 2006 and 2011, while the unemployment rate increased by two percentage points to 17%, and the labour force participation rate decreased by one percentage point to 53%.


SELECTED LABOUR MARKET INDICATORS(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(b)

2006
2011
Change
%
%
% points

Employment to population ratio
46.0
44.2
-1.8
Labour force participation rate
54.5
53.3
-1.2
Unemployment rate
15.6
17.1
1.5

(a) Ratio and rates are calculated using the total population, which includes labour force status not stated.
(b) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.


Between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses, the largest proportional increase in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over was for unemployed people (35% or 7,800), followed by those not in the labour force (28% or 34,500), and then employed people (20% or 25,000).


LABOUR FORCE STATUS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a)

Graph shows that counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over who were unemployed increased by 35% and employed people increased by 20% between 2006 and 2011.


LABOUR FORCE OUTCOMES BY REMOTENESS

Major cities

Between 2006 and 2011, there were minimal changes to the employment to population ratio and unemployment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over living in major cities, and no change to the labour force participation rate.


SELECTED LABOUR MARKET INDICATORS(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(b), Major cities

2006
2011
Change
%
%
% points

Employment to population ratio
50.0
50.2
0.2
Labour force participation rate
58.8
58.8
0.0
Unemployment rate
15.0
14.6
-0.3

(a) Ratio and rates are calculated using the total population, which includes labour force status not stated.
(b) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.


The count of unemployed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over in major cities increased by 2,400 (30%) between 2006 and 2011, while the increase in the counts of employed people and people not in the labour force were greater at 15,000 and 12,200 respectively (34% each).


LABOUR FORCE STATUS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a), Major cities

Graph shows a 34% increase in the counts of employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over living in major cities between 2006 and 2011 and a 30% increase in those who were unemployed



Inner regional areas
The labour force participation rate and unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over living in inner regional areas declined by one percentage point each to 53% and 18% respectively between 2006 and 2011, while the employment to population ratio remained steady at 44%.


SELECTED LABOUR MARKET INDICATORS(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(b), Inner regional areas

2006
2011
Change
%
%
% points

Employment to population ratio
44.1
43.8
-0.3
Labour force participation rate
54.0
53.1
-0.9
Unemployment rate
18.4
17.5
-0.9

(a) Ratio and rates are calculated using the total population, which includes labour force status not stated.
(b) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.


The count of unemployed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over in inner regional areas increased by 1,100 (19%) between 2006 and 2011 while the counts of those who were employed or not in the labour force increased by 6,400 (26%) and 7,700 (29%) respectively.


LABOUR FORCE STATUS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a), Inner regional areas

Graph shows a 26% increase in counts of employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over living in inner regional areas between 2006 and 2011 and a 29% increase in those who were not in the labour force.


Outer regional areas

Between 2006 and 2011, the employment to population ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over living in outer regional areas dropped by three percentage points to 41%, the labour force participation rate dropped by two percentage points to 51%, and the unemployment rate increased by three percentage points to 20%.


SELECTED LABOUR MARKET INDICATORS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a), Outer regional areas

2006
2011
Change
%
%
% points

Employment to population ratio
43.5
40.6
-2.9
Labour force participation rate
52.7
50.9
-1.8
Unemployment rate
17.6
20.2
2.6

(a) Ratio and rates are calculated using the total population, which includes labour force status not stated.
(b) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.

The count of unemployed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over living in outer regional areas increased by 2,100 (39%) between 2006 and 2011, while the count of those who were employed or not in the labour force increased by 4,200 (17%) and 8,100 (30%) respectively.


LABOUR FORCE STATUS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a), Outer regional areas

Graph shows a 17% increase in counts of employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over living in outer regional areas between 2006 and 2011 and a 30% increase in those not in the labour force.


Remote areas

Between 2006 and 2011, the unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over living in remote areas increased by four percentage points to 18%. The employment to population ratio declined by three percentage points to 41% in 2011 and the labour force participation rate declined by two percentage points to 50%.


SELECTED LABOUR MARKET INDICATORS(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(b), Remote areas

2006
2011
Change
%
%
% points

Employment to population ratio
43.7
40.5
-3.2
Labour force participation rate
51.1
49.5
-1.6
Unemployment rate
14.5
18.1
3.6

(a) Ratio and rates are calculated using the total population, which includes labour force status not stated.
(b) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.

The count of unemployed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over living in remote areas increased by 500 (30%) between 2006 and 2011, while the count of those not participating in the labour force increased by 1,200 (11%) and the those who were employed decreased by 60 (1%). It is important to note that the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over whose labour force status was not stated was significantly higher for those living in remote and very remote areas than in other areas for both 2006 and 2011 and so any changes in the proportion of people employed, unemployed or not in the labour force should be treated with caution.


LABOUR FORCE STATUS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a), Remote areas

Graph shows small increases in the counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over who were unemployed or not in the labour force, and almost no change in counts of employed people between 2006 and 2011.



Very remote areas

The changes to the employment to population ratio, labour force participation rate and unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over living in very remote areas between 2006 and 2011 were greater than for any other Remoteness Area. The employment to population ratio declined by seven percentage points (to 38%), the labour force participation rate declined by four percentage points (to 46%) while the unemployment rate increased by seven percentage points (to 18%).


SELECTED LABOUR MARKET INDICATORS(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(b), Very remote areas

2006
2011
Change
%
%
% points

Employment to population ratio
45.2
38.0
-7.2
Labour force participation rate
50.4
46.2
-4.2
Unemployment rate
10.3
17.7
7.4

(a) Ratio and rates are calculated using the total population, which includes labour force status not stated.
(b) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.


The count of unemployed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in very remote areas increased by 1,700 (to 3,900) between 2006 and 2011. This increase represented a proportional increase of 81%, which was the largest proportional increase for any labour force status changes across any of the Remoteness Areas. There were 5,100 more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over who were not in the labour force living in very remote areas in 2011, an increase of 25% from the 2006 Census, while the count of employed people declined by 580 (3%). It is important to note that the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over whose labour force status was not stated was significantly higher for those living in remote and very remote areas than in other areas for both 2006 and 2011 and any changes in the proportion of people employed, unemployed or not in the labour force should be treated with caution.


LABOUR FORCE STATUS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a), Very remote areas

Graph shows increases in the counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over who were unemployed or not in the labour force, and a small decline in those who were employed between 2006 and 2011.


LABOUR FORCE OUTCOMES BY AGE

In the 2011 Census, the general pattern observed in the distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by labour force status within each age group was similar to that observed in the 2006 Census. The proportion of employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-19 years and 20-24 years in 2011 was four percentage points lower than recorded for the same age groups in 2006. For those aged 25-49 years, the difference was between one and two percentage points lower in 2011, but between one and four percentage points higher for people aged 50-64 years.


PROPORTION OF EMPLOYED PEOPLE, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a)

Graph shows the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people employed by age was similar between 2006 and 2011, with the proportions of those aged 15-24 years and 50-64 years in 2011 showing the greatest change.


There was little change in the pattern of unemployment by age group between 2006 and 2011, with the largest increase observed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 20-24 years (an increase of two percentage points).


PROPORTION OF UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a)

Graph shows little change in the pattern of unemployment by age between 2006 and 2011, with the largest increase observed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 20-24 years (up two percentage points).


The lower proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over who were employed in both Censuses was met by corresponding increases in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50-64 years who were not in the labour force.


PROPORTION OF PEOPLE NOT IN THE LABOUR FORCE, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over(a)

Graph shows the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not in the labour force by age in 2011 was generally similar to 2006, with a small decrease for those aged 55-64 years.


As changes in labour force status can be quite different for people born in different years, this section now looks at the changes in labour force status using age cohorts to assess whether the changes that occurred in each age group were in line with expectations. An age cohort is a group of people with the same birth year within a defined period (for example, people aged 30-34 years in 2011 were aged 25-29 years in 2006). Changes in age cohorts for the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are discussed in more detail in the chapter Changes in Age and Sex Structure.

When comparing age cohorts between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses, the changes in the proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are employed, unemployed or not in the labour force follow the pattern generally expected of the labour force changes associated with age. A high increase (15 percentage points) in the proportion of employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 20-24 years in 2011 (that is, people aged 15-19 years in 2006) and a smaller increase in the proportion of unemployed people (three percentage points) reflects the move out of schooling and into the labour force for this age group. Aside from this age cohort, no age cohort recorded increasing unemployment as a proportion of the population. Increases in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not in the labour force begin to occur for people aged 45 years and over in 2011 (40 years and over in 2006) and continue to increase after that age, reflecting where retirement more commonly occurs.


PERCENTAGE POINT CHANGE IN LABOUR FORCE STATUS BETWEEN 2006 AND 2011(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people(b) by age cohort in 2011

Graph shows that the changes in the proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were employed, unemployed or not in the labour force follows the pattern generally expected of the labour force changes associated with age.


LABOUR FORCE OUTCOMES BY SEX

Male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander labour force outcomes

Changes in the employment to population ratio, labour force participation rate and unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males aged 15 years and over were greater than observed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females between 2006 and 2011. The employment to population ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males aged 15 years and over decreased by three percentage points to 48%, The labour force participation rate decreased by two percentage points to 58%, and the unemployment rate increased by two percentage points to 18%.


SELECTED LABOUR MARKET INDICATORS(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males aged 15 years and over(b)


2006
2011
Change
%
%
% points

Employment to population ratio
51.2
47.9
-3.3
Labour force participation rate
60.8
58.4
-2.4
Unemployment rate
15.8
18.1
2.3

(a) Ratio and rates are calculated using the total population, which includes labour force status not stated.
(b) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.

There was a 26% (33,100) increase in the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males aged 15 years and over between 2006 and 2011. There was a 39% (4,800) increase in the count of unemployed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males which was more than double the 18% (11,600) proportional increase in the count of employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males. The count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males aged 15 years and over who were not in the labour force increased by 33% (16,800).


LABOUR FORCE STATUS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males aged 15 years and over(a)

Graph shows large increases in the counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males aged 15 years and over who were employed (11,600) or not in the labour force (16,800) between 2006 and 2011.


Female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander labour force outcomes

Between 2006 and 2011, there was no change to the employment to population ratio, labour force participation rate and unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over.


SELECTED LABOUR MARKET INDICATORS(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over(b)

2006
2011
Change
%
%
% points

Employment to population ratio
41.2
40.8
-0.4
Labour force participation rate
48.7
48.6
-0.1
Unemployment rate
15.4
16.0
0.6

(a) Ratio and rates are calculated using the total population, which includes labour force status not stated.
(b) Usual residence Census counts. Excludes overseas visitors. Includes Other Territories.


There was a 25% (34,200) increase in the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses. In 2011, there were 70,600 employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females, up 23% (13,400) from 2006. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females who were unemployed accounted for the greatest proportional increase, up 29% (3,000), while the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females not in the labour force increased by 25% (17,800).


LABOUR FORCE STATUS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over(a)

Graph shows large increases in the counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over who were employed (13,400) or not in the labour force (17,800) between 2006 and 2011.


CONCLUDING REMARKS

While the Census data should not be considered an official measure of labour force outcomes, it does allow some conclusions to be drawn about the labour force characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This chapter has shown there has been very little change in the labour force characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a known labour force status between 2006 and 2011. Further analysis of labour force characteristics considering variables such as educational attainment or mobility could provide greater insight into changes in the labour force status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between the 2006 and the 2011 Censuses.