Australian Unemployment
HRM Guide Updates

1.7 Million Australians Looked For Work Last Year

November 12 2009 - Just over 1,700,000 people (10% of Australians aged 15 years or more) were unemployed and looking for work at some time in the twelve months up to February 2009, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In total, 11.7 million people were working at some time during the year out of a total of 16.9 million Australians aged 15 years and over. Approximately 7.8 million Australians worked for the whole year up to February 2009.

Other findings include:

The proportion of males who worked at some time during the year was 78%, compared to 81% in February 2003. The proportion of females who worked at some time was 67%, in comparison to 68% in February 2003.

Of the people who looked for work at some time during the year:

  • 20% looked for work for between 1 and 4 weeks
  • 39% looked for work for between 4 and 13 weeks
  • 15% looked for work for between 13 and 26 weeks
  • 18% looked for work for between 26 and 52 weeks
  • 7% looked for the whole year
  • 75% had 1 spell looking for work
  • 12% had 2 spells looking for work
  • 13% had 3 or more spells looking for work

On average, people spent 15.9 weeks job-hunting. Men spent an average of 16.2 weeks, compared to 15.6 weeks for women. The average time was longer for older people - those aged 55 years and over spending the most time looking for work (20.8 weeks). Conversely, those aged 15-19 years spent an average of 13.3 weeks looking for work.

78% of men and 67% of women worked at some time during the year. Of these:

  • Two-thirds (66%) were employed full time only.
  • A quarter (25%) worked part time only.
  • 9% had a combination of full and part time employment.

Approximately 8.4 million people aged over 15 were out of the job market at some time during the year - they were not working or looking for work. Their main activities during the year were:

  • 'Retired or voluntarily inactive'- 29% of males and 30% of females.
  • 'Home duties or caring for children' - 6% of males and 29% of females.
  • 'Attending an educational institution' - 19% of men, 14% of women.
  • 'Holiday, travel or leisure activities' - 23% of men and 14% of women.

* Further information is in Labour Force Experience, Australia, February 2009 (cat. no. 6206.0).

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