There are around 11.9 million people employed in Australia. More than two thirds work full-time and 46% are female. Around 39% of workers are aged 45 years and over and 16% are young (15 to 24 years).
Recent labour market developments (to January 2016)
While the Australian labour market has been relatively soft over the last couple of years, labour market conditions have strengthened considerably in recent times. For instance, employment increased by 302,500 (or 2.6%) over the year to January 2016, well above the annual average rate of 1.8% recorded over the last decade. The increase in employment over the past year has been fairly evenly split between full-time employment (up by 169,800 or 2.1%) and part-time employment (132,700 or 3.7%). Against the backdrop of stronger employment growth, the unemployment rate has decreased, from 6.2% in January 2015 to 5.8% in January 2016, while the participation rate has risen by 0.5 percentage points over the last year, to 65.2% in January 2016.
Female labour market
Reflecting the recent strengthening in the Australian labour market, employment conditions for females have also improved over the last year. Employment of women increased strongly (up by 3.5% or 187,500) over the year, to a record of 5,513,600 in January 2016, accounting for more than 60% of total employment growth over this period. Importantly, the rise in female employment over the year was driven by a large increase in full-time employment (up by 114,000 or 4.0%) to a record high of 2,960,700, while female part-time employment also increased solidly (up by 73,400 or 3.0%) to 2,552,900, also a record. Against this backdrop, the female unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage points over the year to January 2016, to 5.9%, while the female participation rate increased by 1.0 percentage point to 59.5%, the equal highest rate on record.
Youth labour market
While labour market conditions for youth (15 to 24 years) have improved over recent years, this cohort remains disadvantaged. For instance, while the youth unemployment rate has fallen, from a recent peak of 13.9% in December 2014 to 12.2% in January 2016, it remains more than double the national rate.
While most young people are either engaged in some form of work or study, a key concern is the number who are ‘disengaged’, with 11% of the youth population not in work and not attending full-time education in January 2016. That said, it is encouraging that the proportion of young people participating in full-time education increased to 52.1% in January 2016, because higher levels of educational attainment significantly improve their labour market prospects.
Unemployment rate and annual employment growth, Australia
Employment by location
|Employment||Employment Profile||Workforce Educational Profile||Projected Employment|
|Employ't Nov 2015||Share of total||5 year change to Nov 2015||Part-time||Female||Bachelor degree or higher||Cert III or higher VET qual||No post-school qual||5 year change to Nov 2020|
|States and Territories||'000||%||'000||%||%||%||%||%||%||'000||%|
|New South Wales||3,783.9||32||273.9||7.8||30||46||33||31||31||368.2||9.8|
|Australian Capital Territory||209.8||2||1.4||0.7||27||49||43||27||25||15.3||7.2|
1. Some data are trend and, for these, totals do not add
Sources: ABS, Labour Force (trend and annual averages of original data); ABS, Education and Work; Department of Employment, Regional Employment Projections