2076.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/02/2018   
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EMPLOYMENT

LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION

The 2016 Census found approximately 223,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were participating in the labour force (that is, they were employed or unemployed and looking for work). This represents a labour force participation rate of 52 per cent. Labour force participation has remained stable over the last ten years.

Males were more likely than females to be participating in the labour force (55% compared with 49%), as were people in urban areas, compared with those in non-urban areas (54% and 45%, respectively). Reflecting the normal working life cycle, the highest labour force participation rate was for those aged 25 to 44 years (60%), and the lowest for those aged 65 years and over (12%).

The highest labour force participation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were in the Australian Capital Territory (68%), followed by Tasmania (57%), Victoria (56%), Queensland (55%) and New South Wales (54%). The Northern Territory had the lowest rates of labour force participation (37%), 10 percentage points below Western Australia (47%).
How labour force status is determined

Respondents to the 2016 Census were asked questions about: whether they worked last week; the hours worked; whether they were looking for work; and their availability to start work. These responses were used to determine if a person was employed, unemployed or not in the labour force.

The Census and the Labour Force Survey both collect information about labour market activity of persons aged 15 years and over. While both collections measure concepts related to employment, unemployment and being outside of the labour force, there are a number of differences between them. The fact sheet The 2016 Census and the Labour Force Survey outlines the strengths and key uses of each collection, as well as how the collections differ, and explains why the statistics produced in each of these two collections are not directly comparable.

EMPLOYMENT

The employment to population ratio shows the proportion of people within a population who are employed. In 2016, around 4 in 10 (42%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were employed (44% of males and 41% of females). This has remained stable over the last 10 years.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in urban areas were more likely than those in non-urban areas to be employed (45% compared with 35%). The employment to population ratio in major cities was 49 per cent, while for the rest of the country it was 39 per cent.

Non-Indigenous people in 2016 were 1.4 times more likely than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be employed.

Full-time and part-time work

People who usually work 35 hours or more per week are considered to be working full-time. In 2016, a quarter (25%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were working full-time, and a further 14 per cent were working part-time.

While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males (44%) were only slightly more likely than females (41%) to be employed, females were much more likely to be in part-time work across all age groups.

Graph Image for Employment to Population Ratio by Sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Australia, 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



A larger proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in urban areas were working full-time (26%), compared with 20 per cent in non-urban areas.

Industry and occupation

According to the 2016 Census, most employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians aged 15 years and over worked in health care and social assistance (14%) or public administration and safety (11%).

The most prevalent occupations were community and personal service worker (17%) and labourer (15%).


TOP EMPLOYING INDUSTRIES, 15 YEARS AND OVER, ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS, 2016

Industry
% of employed persons

Health Care and Social Assistance
14%
Public Administration and Safety
11%
Construction
9%
Education and Training
9%
.Retail Trade
9%
Accommodation and Food Services
7%

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


TOP EMPLOYING OCCUPATIONS, 15 YEARS AND OVER, ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS, 2016

Occupation
% of employed persons

Community and Personal Service Workers
17%
Labourers
15%
Professionals
13%
Technicians and Trade Workers
13%
Clerical and Administrative Workers
13%

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


UNEMPLOYMENT

The unemployment rate is the percentage of unemployed people expressed as a proportion of people in the labour force. In 2016, the unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over was 18 per cent.

Unemployment has varied slightly over the last 10 years. In 2006, the unemployment rate was 16 per cent. It then increased to 20 per cent in 2011 before dropping slightly in 2016 (18%).

Community Development Programme

In the 2011 Census, participants in the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) were classified as employed. This scheme has since been replaced by the Community Development Programme (CDP). People participating only in this programme are not considered to be employed for the 2016 Census. For more information on this change please see the Community Development Programme Participation (CDPP) Data Quality Statement.

For the purposes of the time series in this article, 2011 CDEP participants have had their labour force status updated to unemployed.

Unemployment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people generally decreased with age. Unemployment rates were highest among people aged 15 to 24 years (27%) and lowest for those aged 65 years and over (7%).

The unemployment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were higher than those for non-Indigenous people, across all age groups. The difference was largest for young people aged 15 to 24 years (27% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, compared with 14% for non-Indigenous people). The smallest difference was for those aged 65 years and over (7% compared with 3%).

Graph Image for Persons Unemployed by Age by Indigenous Status, Australia, 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



Males are slightly more likely to be unemployed than females across all age groups, although the difference is only between 1.1 and 1.3 times.

The unemployment rate was higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over in non-urban areas (21%) than in urban areas (17%). The States and Territories with the highest unemployment rates were the Northern Territory (27%) and Western Australia (22%). The Australian Capital Territory had the lowest rate of unemployment (9%) next to Tasmania (13%) and Victoria (14%). The Northern Territory’s high unemployment rate is influenced by its very high non-urban rate of 35 per cent.

PERSONS NOT IN THE LABOUR FORCE

In 2016, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not in the labour force was 44 per cent. This has remained stable over the last 10 years. Just over one third (35%) of the non-Indigenous population was not participating in the labour market.

Persons not in the Labour Force

People move in and out of the labour force for a number of reasons, including retirement or child rearing. Because the unemployment rate is calculated on the number of people in the labour force, then the proportion of people who are not participating can positively or negatively affect this number. The participation rate can also be an indicator of discouraged workers. These are people who want a job and are available for work but have given up looking for work because they believe they cannot find a job.

Half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in non-urban areas were not in the labour force, compared to 43 per cent in urban areas. In the Northern Territory and Western Australia, 54 per cent and 48 per cent respectively were not in the labour force. In contrast, less than one third of people in the Australian Capital Territory are not participating in the labour force.

Females were more likely than males to be out of the labour force (48% versus 41%) across all age groups.

Graph Image for Persons Not in the Labour Force by Age and Sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Australia, 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



For those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15 years and over who said they spoke English as their main language at home, 42 per cent indicated they were not in the labour force. This increased to 56 per cent for people who said English was not their main language but who spoke English well or very well. For people who said they did not speak English well or at all, more than 70 per cent were not in the labour force.