1338.1 - NSW State and Regional Indicators, March 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/04/2010   
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Data cubes with detailed statistics are available on the Downloads page.


Paid work is the way most people obtain the economic resources needed for themselves and their dependents, both for day-to-day living and to meet their longer term financial needs. Work allows individuals to build their skills and social networks and enhance their own identity, and contributes to economic growth and development. People without paid work may be at risk of poverty and isolation.


The number of people in paid employment in NSW has grown steadily over the last decade. In 2008–09, the number of employed people in NSW was 3.4 million, up from 3.1 million in 2001–02. While much of this increase can be attributed to population growth, the participation rate has also increased, from 62.1% in 2001–02 to 63.6% in 2008–09. This means that the number of people in the labour force has increased as a proportion of the total population aged 15 years and over. In the same period, the proportion employed persons who worked full-time decreased from 73.5% to 71.9% while those who were employed part-time increased from 26.5% to 28.1%.


Over the period 2001–02 to 2007–08, the unemployment rate in NSW fell from 6.2% to 4.6% before rising to 5.7% in 2008–09. This reflects the period of sustained economic growth which occurred during the period and the effect of the global financial downturn. The labour force underutilisation rate also fell from 12.0% in August 2002 to 10.7% in August 2008. The labour force underutilisation rate is the unemployed plus the underemployed, as a percentage of the labour force.


In 2008–09, among the Labour Force Survey Dissemination Regions of NSW, the highest rate of unemployment was recorded in the Fairfield–Liverpool Statistical Region (9.1%) and the lowest was recorded in the Eastern Suburbs Statistical Region (3.1%). Small area labour market statistics from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for March 2009 revealed that the Local Government Area with the highest estimated rate of unemployment in NSW was Brewarrina (15.1%). Conversely, several NSW LGAs recorded an estimated unemployment rate of below 2.0%, such as Yass Valley, Palerang, Queanbeyan, Woollahra, Ku-ring-gai and Leichhardt.


Of the 3.4 million people employed in NSW in 2009, over one in five work in either the Retail Trade industry (11.2%) or the Health Care and Social Assistance industry (10.6%). The Manufacturing industry employs 8.8% of NSW people (down from 9.9% in 2005) while 8.1% were employed in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (up from 7.5% in 2005).

The Health Care and Social Assistance and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services industries saw the largest increases in the number of people employed between 2005 and 2009 (46,600 and 36,700, respectively) while the Mining (52.1% or 11,000) and Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services (36.1% or 10,300) industries experienced the greatest percentage increases in employment.

Industries in NSW that suffered a decline in employment between 2005 and 2009 were Manufacturing (down 14,600 or 4.7%) and Administrative and Support Services (down 10,200 or 8.6%).



In trend terms, average weekly ordinary time earnings (AWOTE) for adult full-time workers in NSW in 2009 was $1,210.10 per week, up from $1,046.60 in 2005 (an increase of 15.6%). AWOTE for males was $1,290.90 per week whilst for females it was $1,085.60 per week, a ratio of 1:0.8. In original terms, the highest adult full-time AWOTE in 2009 were in the Mining industry ($2,013.90 per week) while the lowest was in the Accommodation, Cafes and Restaurants sector ($527.70 per week).

AVERAGE WEEKLY EARNINGS, By sex, NSW - Adult ordinary time earnings: Trend
AVERAGE WEEKLY EARNINGS, By sex, NSW—Adult ordinary time earnings: Trend


The needs of an ageing population puts pressure on the capacity of government to adequately fund government payments, programs and services. Policies, particularly around taxation and superannuation, encourage mature age workers to stay in the workforce for longer. However, many people look forward to retirement and often take the opportunity to reduce their participation in the labour force over a period of time, also known as transitioning to retirement.

Between 2001 and 2009, the proportion of the population aged 55–64 years participating in the workforce increased; the participation rate for males increased 7.3 percentage points (from 58.5% to 65.8%) and for females it rose 15.0 percentage points (from 34.0% to 49.0%).

Of those persons aged 55–64 years who were employed, the proportion of males aged 55–64 years working full-time declined 2.6 percentage points (from 85.3% to 82.7%) while the corresponding number of males working part-time increased. In contrast, the proportion of females aged 55–64 years working full-time increased 5.4 percentage points (from 50.4% to 55.8%) while the corresponding number of females working part-time decreased.

Data cubes with detailed statistics are available on the Downloads page.


Average Weekly Earnings, Australia (cat. no. 6302.0)

Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0)

Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, Australia (cat. no. 6310.0)

Forms of Employment, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6359.0)

Industrial Disputes, Australia (6321.0.55.001)

Job vacancies, Australia (cat. no. 6354.0)

Labour Force, Australia, Detailed (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001)

Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003)

Labour Price Index, Australia (cat. no. 6345.0)

Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6220.0)

Small Area Labour Markets, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations