There are around 12.7 million people employed in Australia. More than two thirds work full-time, almost half are female and around 17% are self-employed. Young workers (aged 15 to 24 years) account for 15% of total employment. More than two thirds of Australian workers hold post-school qualifications.
Recent labour market developments (to January 2019)
Labour market conditions have been strong over the year, with the level of employment increasing by 271,300 (or 2.2%), well above the decade annual average rate of 1.7%. The increase in employment over the year was due, predominantly, to a rise in full-time employment, up by 236,100 (or 2.8%) to a record high of 8,743,100 in January 2019, while part-time employment increased by 35,200 (or 0.9%) to 4,008,700. Against the stronger backdrop, the unemployment rate declined from 5.5% in January 2018 to 5.0% in January 2019 (the equal lowest rate recorded since June 2011). The participation rate was steady over the year at 65.7%, the equal highest rate recorded since January 2011.
Despite the recent strength, some spare capacity remains evident in the labour market, with 1,093,800 underemployed workers (persons who are not fully employed and want, and are available for, more hours of work) in January 2019, equating to an underemployment rate of 8.1% in January 2019. Encouragingly, this is the lowest rate recorded since March 2015 and below the 8.8% recorded in January 2018. Long-term unemployment (LTU) fell by 11,800 (or 6.8 per cent) over the year, to 161,000 in January 2019, but remains well above the trough recorded prior to the onset of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in September 2008.
Youth labour market
Labour market conditions for youth (persons aged 15 to 24 years) have improved over the last year, with the level of youth employment increasing solidly, by 39,600 (or 2.1%) to 1,934,300 in January 2019.
Against the stronger background, the youth unemployment rate has fallen by 0.8 percentage points over the year to 11.5% in January 2019, although it remains well above the 8.7% recorded in September 2008 and more than double the rate recorded or all persons.
The youth underemployment rate has also declined over the last year, from 18.5% in January 2018 to 17.3% in January 2019, but remains well above the 8.1% recorded for all persons.
Despite these improvements, many young people are continuing to encounter difficulty securing work and are facing longer spells of unemployment. Youth LTU has increased by 400 (or 1.0%) over the year to 45,500 in January 2019, and remains 29,600 (or 186.2%) above the level recorded in September 2008.
Sources: ABS, Labour Force (trend and annual averages of original data); ABS, Education and Work; Department of Jobs and Small Business, Employment Projections