6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Apr 2018 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/05/2018   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY APRIL 2018


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

Australia's trend estimate of employment increased by 13,800 persons in April 2018, with:

  • the number of unemployed persons increasing by 1,400 persons;
  • the unemployment rate remaining steady at 5.5 per cent;
  • the participation rate increasing by less than 0.1 percentage points to 65.7 per cent; and
  • the employment to population ratio remaining steady at 62.0 per cent.

Over the past year, trend employment increased by 355,200 persons (or 2.9 per cent), which was above the average annual growth rate over the past 20 years of 2.0 per cent. 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 0.8 percentage points to 62.0 per cent.

In monthly terms, trend employment increased by 13,800 persons between March and April 2018. This represents an increase of 0.11 per cent, which was below the monthly average growth rate over the past 20 years of 0.16 per cent, and the lowest monthly growth rate observed since November 2016.

Underpinning these net changes in employment is extensive dynamic change, which occurs each month in the labour market. In recent months there has generally been considerably more than 300,000 people entering employment, and more than 300,000 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.

In net terms, trend full-time employment increased by 5,900 persons between March and April 2018, and part-time employment increased by 7,900 persons. Compared to a year ago, there are 256,100 more persons employed full-time and 99,100 more persons employed part-time. This compositional shift led to a decrease in the part-time share of employment of 0.1 percentage points over the past 12 months, from 31.8 per cent to 31.7 per cent.

The trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 4.7 million hours (or 0.3 per cent) in April 2018, to 1,749.4 million hours. Monthly hours worked increased by 3.3 per cent over the past year, slightly above the increase in employed persons (2.9 per cent). As a result, the average hours worked per employed person increased slightly to 139.9 hours per month, or around 32.3 hours per week.

The trend unemployment rate remained steady at 5.5 per cent in April 2018, after the March figure was revised down. The number of unemployed persons increased by 1,400 to 733,300 persons. Over the past year the trend unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points, with the number of unemployed decreasing by 4,800 persons.

The trend participation rate increased by less than 0.1 percentage points to a historical high of 65.7 per cent in April 2018, and was 0.7 percentage points higher than in April 2017. The male participation rate remained at 70.8 per cent whilst the female participation rate increased to a further historical high of 60.7 per cent.

The labour force includes the total number of employed and unemployed persons. Over the past year, the labour force has increased by 350,400 persons (2.7 per cent). This rate of increase was above the rate of increase for the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (325,700 persons, or 1.6 per cent).

The trend participation rate for 15-64 year olds, which controls (in part) for the effects of an ageing population, increased by less than 0.1 percentage points to a historical high of 78.1 per cent in April 2018 after March figures were revised down. The gap between male and female participation rates in this age range is less than 10 percentage points, at 82.9 and 73.3 per cent respectively, continuing the long term convergence of male and female participation.

The trend participation rate for 15-24 year olds increased by 0.1 percentage points to 67.9 per cent in April 2018. The unemployment rate for this group increased by 0.1 percentage points to 12.6 per cent in April 2018 and decreased by 0.3 percentage points 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 22,600 persons from March to April 2018 (0.2 per cent increase). The underlying composition of the net change was an increase of 32,700 persons in full-time employment and a 10,000 decrease in part-time employment. Since April 2017, full-time employment has increased by 265,200 persons, while part-time employment has increased by 66,900 persons.

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 19.4 million hours (or 1.1 per cent) in April 2018 to 1,764.0 million hours.

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio remained steady at 61.9 per cent in April 2018, and increased by 0.7 percentage points from the same time last year.

Graph 1, Employment to population ratio, Persons, April 2008 to April 2018
Graph: Graph 1, Employment to population ratio, Persons, April 2008 to April 2018


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 5.6 per cent in April 2018. The participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 65.6 per cent.


STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

In April 2018, increases in trend employment were observed in all states and territories except for the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania where employment decreased by 800 and 100 people respectively. The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 9,400 persons), followed by Victoria (up 2,100 persons) and Western Australia (up 1,400 persons).

Similarly, over the past year, increases in employment were also observed in all states and territories except Northern Territory (down 2,700 persons or 2.0 per cent). The largest increases were in New South Wales (up 146,500 persons), Queensland (up 83,600 persons), Victoria (up 65,400 persons) and Western Australia (up 24,500 persons). The highest annual employment growth rates were in New South Wales at 3.8 per cent, followed by Queensland at 3.5 per cent, and the Australian Capital Territory at 2.7 per cent.

The monthly trend unemployment rate increased in Western Australia and Queensland by 0.1 percentage points to 6.4 per cent and 6.3 per cent respectively. Victoria and South Australia experienced 0.1 percentage point decreases in trend unemployment rates to 5.3 and 5.9 per cent respectively. The monthly trend unemployment rate remained unchanged in New South Wales (4.9 per cent), Tasmania (6.0 per cent), Northern Territory (4.3 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (4.0 per cent).

The monthly trend participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia. The Australian Capital Territory recorded a decrease of 0.4 percentage points followed by Victoria and Tasmania, both decreasing by 0.1 percentage points.


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in New South Wales (up 27,100 persons), followed by Western Australia (up 8,300 persons) and South Australia (up 2,700 persons). The largest decrease was in Victoria (down 10,000 persons), followed by Queensland (down 8,200).

The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was in Queensland (up 0.4 percentage points), followed by South Australia (up 0.3 percentage points, following a decrease of 0.6 percentage points last month). Western Australia recorded a decrease in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 0.4 percentage points, following a 0.8 percentage points increase last month.

The largest increase in the seasonally adjusted participation rate was in South Australia (up 0.4 percentage points to 62.8 per cent) followed by New South Wales (up 0.3 percentage points to 64.8 per cent) and Western Australia (up 0.1 percentage points to 68.8 per cent). Victoria and Tasmania's seasonally adjusted participation rate decreased 0.3 percentage points to 65.3 and 60.8 per cent respectively. Queensland remained unchanged.

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.

Table 1, Unemployment rate, States and Territories

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
March
April
March
April
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
4.9
4.9
5.0
5.0
Victoria
5.4
5.3
5.3
5.3
Queensland
6.2
6.3
6.1
6.5
South Australia
5.9
5.9
5.6
5.9
Western Australia
6.3
6.4
6.9
6.5
Tasmania
6.0
6.0
6.1
6.0
Northern Territory
4.3
4.3
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
4.0
4.0
np
np
Australia
5.5
5.5
5.5
5.6

np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated