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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY March 2019
Over the past year, trend employment increased by 299,100 persons (or 2.4%), which was above the average annual growth rate over the past 20 years of 2.0%. Over the same 12 month period the trend employment to population ratio, which is a measure of how employed the population (aged 15 years and over) is, increased by 0.4 percentage points (pts) to 62.4%.
Trend employment increased by 20,700 persons between February and March 2019. This represents an increase of 0.16%, similar to the monthly average growth rate over the past 20 years (0.17%), and less than the monthly average growth rate over the past five years (0.22%).
Underpinning these net changes in employment is extensive dynamic change, which occurs each month in the labour market. In recent months there has been around 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 18,000 persons between February and March 2019, and part-time employment increased by 2,700 persons. Compared to a year ago, there are 252,800 more persons employed full-time and 46,300 more persons employed part-time. This compositional shift led to a decrease in the part-time share of employment over the past 12 months, from 31.7% to 31.3%.
The trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 4.3 million hours (or 0.2%) in March 2019, to 1,776.8 million hours. Monthly hours worked increased by 2.4% over the past year, equal to the increase in employed persons (2.4%). The average hours worked per employed person was 138.9 hours per month, or around 32.0 hours per week.
The trend unemployment rate remained steady at 5.0% in March 2019. The number of unemployed persons increased by 3,000 to 675,700 persons. Over the past year, the trend unemployment rate decreased by 0.5 pts, with the number of unemployed decreasing by 51,100 persons.
The trend participation rate remained steady at 65.6% in March 2019, which was equal to March 2018 (65.6%). The female participation rate remained steady at 60.6% and the male participation rate remained steady at 70.9%.
The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed persons. Over the past year, the labour force increased by 248,000 persons (1.9%). This rate of increase was above the rate of increase for the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (360,500 persons, or 1.8%).
The trend participation rate for 15-64 year olds, which controls (in part) for the effects of an ageing population remained steady at 78.1%. The gap between male and female participation rates in this age range is less than 10 pts, at 82.8% and 73.6% 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) remained steady at 68.0%. The unemployment rate for this group remained steady at 11.4% in March 2019 and decreased by 0.7% over the year.
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 25,700 persons from February to March 2019. The underlying composition of the net change was an increase of 48,300 persons in full-time employment and a decrease of 22,600 persons in part-time employment. Since March 2018, full-time employment increased by 289,800 persons, while part-time employment increased by 14,900 persons.
Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 13.2 million hours (or 0.7%) in March 2019 to 1,785.4 million hours.
The seasonally adjusted employment to population remained steady at 62.3% in March 2019, and increased by 0.4 pts from the same time last year.
GRAPH 1. EMPLOYMENT TO POPULATION RATIO, PERSONS, March 2009 to March 2019
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.1 pts to 5.0% in March 2019. The participation rate increased by 0.1 pts to 65.7%.
STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES
In March 2019, increases in trend employment were observed in all states and territories except Western Australia (down 200 persons) and Tasmania (down 100 persons). The largest increases were in Victoria (up 7,600 persons), followed by New South Wales (up 6,800 persons) and Queensland (up 4,900 persons).
Over the past year, increases in employment were also observed in all states except Tasmania (down 2,300 persons). Both territories recorded falls with the Australian Capital Territory (down 1,600 persons) and Northern Territory (down 4,800 persons). The largest increases were in Victoria (up 127,500 persons), New South Wales (up 118,500 persons), Queensland (up 36,100 persons). The highest annual employment growth rates were in the Victoria at 3.9%, followed by New South Wales at 3.0% and Queensland at 1.5%. For most states and territories, year-on-year growth in trend employment was below their 20 year average, the exceptions being New South Wales and Victoria.
The monthly trend unemployment rate increased by 0.1 pts in Tasmania (6.5%) and the Australian Capital Territory (3.6%). It remained unchanged in New South Wales (4.3%), Victoria (4.6%) and South Australia (5.9%). It decreased by under 0.1 pts in Western Australia (6.1%) and Queensland (5.9%), and fell 0.2 pts in the Northern Territory to 4.4%.
The monthly trend underemployment rate increased in the Northern Territory (up 0.2 pts to 5.4%), Victoria (up 0.1 pts to 8.4%) and Tasmania (up less than 0.1 pts to 10.1%). Decreases of up to 0.1 pts were seen in New South Wales (7.5%), South Australia (8.9%), Queensland (8.6%), Western Australia (8.9%) and the Australian Capital Territory (5.9%).
Monthly trend participation rate decreases were observed in Northern Territory (down 0.2 pts to 73.8%), Western Australia (down 0.1 pts to 67.8%) and Australian Capital Territory (down 0.1 pts to 69.2%). The monthly trend participation rate increased less than 0.1 pts in New South Wales (65.2%) and Victoria (66.1%). It remained unchanged in all remaining states.
SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES
In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in Queensland (up 10,400 persons), followed by Victoria (up 10,000 persons) and South Australia (up 8,500 persons). The largest decrease was in New South Wales (down 2,600 persons) followed by Tasmania (down 1,800 persons).
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased in Queensland (up 0.7 pts to 6.1%), South Australia (up 0.2 pts to 5.9%), Tasmania (up 0.2 pts to 6.7%), Western Australia (up 0.1 pts to 6.0%) and New South Wales (up 0.1 pts to 4.3%). The only decrease in the unemployment rate was observed in Victoria (down 0.1 pts to 4.6%).
The largest underemployment rate increase in seasonally adjusted terms was seen in Queensland (up 0.9 pts to 8.9%) followed by South Australia (up 0.4 pts to 8.8%), Western Australia (up 0.3 pts to 8.9%) and Tasmania (up 0.2 pts to 9.9%). The only decrease was seen in New South Wales (down 0.2 pts to 7.4%).
The largest increases in the seasonally adjusted participation rate were in South Australia (up 0.7 pts to 63.2%) and Queensland (up 0.6 pts to 65.6%). The seasonally adjusted participation rate decreased in Tasmania (down 0.4 pts to 60.3%), New South Wales (down 0.1 pts to 65.1%) and Victoria (down 0.1 pts to 66.0%).
Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.
TABLE 1. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, STATES AND TERRITORIES
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