6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Feb 2017 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/03/2017   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY FEBRUARY 2017


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

Australia's trend estimate of employment increased by 11,600 persons in February 2017, with:

  • the number of unemployed persons increasing by 5,200;
  • the unemployment rate remaining steady at 5.8 per cent following revisions to January 2017;
  • the participation rate remaining steady at 64.6 per cent; and
  • the employment to population ratio remaining steady at 60.9 per cent.

Year on year trend employment increased by 100,800 persons (or 0.8 per cent), which is less than half of the average year-on-year growth over the past 20 years (1.8 per cent). Over the same 12 month period the trend employment to population ratio, which is a measure of how employed the population over 15 years is, decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 60.9 per cent.

In monthly terms, the trend employment increase of 11,600 persons between January 2017 and February 2017 represents an increase of 0.10 per cent, remaining below the monthly average growth rate over the past 20 years of 0.15 per cent.

Trend full-time employment increased by 4,600 persons in February and part-time employment increased by 6,900 persons. Over the past year, full-time employment decreased by 21,200, while part time employment increased by 122,000 persons. Since August 2016, the difference in employment growth between full-time and part-time employment has narrowed, with full-time and part-time employment increasing by 22,100 and 41,400 persons respectively.

The trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs increased by 1.2 million hours in February 2017, to 1,671.5 million hours. Changes in the underlying composition showed a larger increase in hours worked by part-time workers (around 0.8 million hours), than full-time workers (around 0.4 million hours).

The trend unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.8 per cent in February 2017 following revisions to January 2017. Over the past month, the number of unemployed persons increased by 5,200, and increased by 10,700 since February 2016.

The quarterly underemployment rate was unchanged in February 2017, remaining at 8.6 per cent. Over the past year the underemployment rate has been relatively stable, with underemployment increasing by 34,900 persons.

Graph 1, Underemployment and Unemployment Rate, February 2007 to February 2017
Graph: Graph 1, Underemployment and Unemployment Rate, February 2007 to February 2017


The trend participation rate remained unchanged at 64.6 per cent in February 2017. Over the past year, the labour force, which includes both employed and unemployed persons, increased by 111,500 persons (0.9 per cent). This was below the rate of increase in the total Civilian Population aged 15 years and over (302,800 persons, or 1.6 per cent), resulting in the participation rate decreasing 0.4 percentage points, down from 65.0 per cent.

The participation rate for 15-64 year olds, which controls (in part) for the effects of an ageing population in the older age groups, remained unchanged at 76.8 per cent in February. It decreased over the year to February 2017 by 0.2 percentage points (from 77.1 per cent).

The trend participation rate for 15-24 year olds remained unchanged at 66.5 per cent in February 2017. It decreased over the year to February 2017 by 0.6 percentage points. The youth unemployment rate remained unchanged at 13.0 per cent.

The trend series smoothes 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 decreased by 6,400 persons from January to February 2017. Full-time employment increased by 27,100 persons, while part-time employment decreased by 33,500 persons. Since February 2016, seasonally adjusted full-time employment has decreased by 23,200 persons, while part-time employment has increased by 127,800 persons.

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 20.5 million hours in February 2017, to 1,661.9 million hours. Changes in the underlying composition showed a larger decrease in hours worked by full-time workers (19.0 million hours), than part-time workers (1.5 million hours).

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio decreased by 0.1 per cent to 60.8 per cent in February 2017. Over the past 12 months, the employment to population ratio has decreased by 0.4 percentage points.

Graph 2, Employment to population ratio, Persons, February 2007 to February 2017
Graph: Graph 2, Employment to population ratio, Persons, February 2007 to February 2017


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points in February 2017 to 5.9 per cent (after falling 0.1 percentage points in January), and the labour force participation rate remained steady at 64.6 per cent.

The quarterly seasonally adjusted underemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points over the quarter, to 8.7 per cent, returning the series to the historical high seen in August 2016.


STATE AND TERRITORY ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

In February 2017, increases in trend employment were observed in all states and territories, with the exception of New South Wales (down 3,000 persons). The largest increases were in Victoria (up 3,000 persons) and Western Australia (up 2,900 persons).

Since February 2016, the largest increases in employment have been in Victoria (up 100,200 persons), followed by South Australia (up 12,700 persons). Over the same period, the largest decreases in employment were in Queensland (down 24,200 persons), Western Australia (down 5,500 persons) and New South Wales (down 5,400 persons).

The trend unemployment rate decreased in Tasmania (down 0.2 percentage points), Western Australia (down 0.1 percentage points) and Northern Territory (down 0.1 percentage points) in February 2017. New South Wales and Queensland both increased by 0.1 percentage points. All other states and the Australian Capital Territory recorded movements of less than 0.1 percentage points.

The quarterly trend underemployment rate declined in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia by 0.1 percentage points. The largest increases were in Western Australia (up 0.4 percentage points) and Queensland (up 0.2 percentage points).

The trend participation rate increased in Northern Territory (up 0.6 percentage points) and South Australia (up 0.1 percentage points) in February 2017. New South Wales and Tasmania decreased by 0.1 percentage points.


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest increase in employment was in Victoria (up 10,600 persons). The largest decreases in employment were in Queensland (down 11,500 persons) and Western Australia (down 5,500 persons).

The only decrease in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was in Western Australia (down 0.4 percentage points). The unemployment rate increased in all the remaining states, the largest increases were observed in Queensland (up 0.4 percentage points) and Victoria (up 0.3 percentage points).

The quarterly seasonally adjusted underemployment rate declined in New South Wales (down 0.5 percentage points), Tasmania (down 0.3 percentage points) and Victoria (down 0.2 percentage points). The largest increase was in Western Australia (up 1.4 percentage points) and both Queensland and South Australia increased by 0.7 percentage points.

Western Australia saw the largest decrease in the participation rate in February 2017 (down 0.6 percentage points). The largest increase was in Victoria (up 0.3 percentage points).

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the two territories.

Table 1, Unemployment rate, States and Territories

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
January
February
January
February
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
5.1
5.2
5.1
5.2
Victoria
6.0
6.0
5.8
6.1
Queensland
6.3
6.4
6.3
6.7
South Australia
6.6
6.6
6.4
6.6
Western Australia
6.4
6.4
6.4
6.0
Tasmania
5.9
5.8
5.6
5.8
Northern Territory
3.6
3.5
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
3.8
3.8
np
np
Australia
5.8
5.8
5.7
5.9

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