The number of unemployed people is an important social and economic indicator. The Duration of Job Search, i.e. the length of time that unemployed people have been looking for work or since they last worked (previously referred to as duration of unemployment) is also important from both an economic and social perspective. Long-term unemployment (i.e. where duration of job search is 52 weeks or more) is of particular social concern due to the consequences of being out of work for long periods, such as financial hardship and the loss of relevant skills. From an economic perspective, the longer people are unemployed the less likely they are going to be able to contribute to the economy.
Since its inception in 1960, the ABS Labour Force Survey (LFS) has collected information about duration of unemployment for unemployed persons. The survey collects data each month about the length, in completed weeks, of current (incomplete) spells of looking for work and/or time since last job from those who are currently unemployed. With the latest revision of the standard (2014), the name of this item changed from Duration of Unemployment to Duration of Job Search.
The definition of Duration of Job Search used by the ABS aligns with international standards (19th ICLS resolution (2013) concerning statistics of work, employment and labour underutilisation).