Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Long-term unemployment statistics: a quick guide



Download PDFDownload PDF

ISSN 2203-5249

RESEARCH PAPER SERIES, 2015-16 9 DECEMBER 2015

Long-term unemployment statistics: a quick guide Penny Vandenbroek Statistics and Mapping Section

Introduction This guide provides a brief overview of long-term unemployment, an introduction to the key concepts and terminology, and lists relevant data sources. This is one in a series of statistical quick guides, designed to provide a basic understanding of Australian labour market data. Other guides include labour force, unemployment, employment and youth unemployment, which are available from the Parliamentary Library website.

In the labour force framework, unemployed people form part of the currently active population, who along with the employed constitute the labour force (see diagram below).

Labour force framework

Source: ABS, Labour Statistics: Concepts, sources and methods, 2013, cat. no. 6102.0.55.001

Who are unemployed people? The International Labour Organization (ILO) describes unemployed people as those who are: without work; currently available for work; and deliberately seeking work. The concept of ‘without work’ is used to distinguish unemployed people from the employed. A person must not have undertaken any work at all (not even for one hour) during the reference period. The long-term unemployed are a sub-set of unemployed people. They are classified as long-term unemployed based on the duration of their job search.

Long-term unemployment statistics: a quick guide 2

How is unemployment measured? The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) conducts a monthly Labour Force Survey. This household survey is designed to produce key estimates of unemployment (and employment) from a sample of approximately 56,000 people. The survey’s definition of unemployment closely aligns with international standards and guidelines.

Unemployed persons are defined as all persons aged 15 years and over who were not employed during the reference week and: • had actively looked for work and were available to work (in the reference week), or • were waiting to start a new job

More detailed information on the definition of unemployment is provided in Unemployment statistics: a quick guide

Long-term unemployed Unemployed people who have not worked for 52 weeks or longer are classified as long-term unemployed.

Duration of job search To measure the duration of job search, the ABS focuses on the period of time that has elapsed since an unemployed person began looking for work and was available to work. The period is measured up to the end of the reference week. Any brief period of work (greater than one hour), during the job seeking period will result in a break in the duration.

Prior to July 2014, the ABS measured the duration of unemployment based on different parameters for both looking for work and breaks in the period of looking. More information is available from the ABS, see Information paper: Forthcoming changes to labour force statistics, Jun 2014, cat. no. 6292.0.

What are the key measures? The number of long-term unemployed people (head count) Each month the ABS estimates the number of unemployed people, releasing trend, seasonally adjusted and original data by duration of job search and sex. People whose duration of active job search is 52 weeks or longer are considered to be long-term unemployed. Estimates are also available by age, state and territory, and labour market region (original data).

Graph 1 provides changes in the number of long-term unemployed people from the start of the data series to the most recent period.

1. Long-term unemployed people - trend

Source: ABS, Labour force, detailed - electronic delivery, Sep 2015, cat. no. 6291.0.55.001

Graph 2 provides a snapshot of unemployed people by their duration of job search. In September 2015, just under one-quarter (23%) of all unemployed people were considered to be long-term unemployed, and had been actively looking for work for more than 52 weeks.

Long-term unemployment statistics: a quick guide 3

2. Unemployed people by duration of job search, September 2015 - original

Source: ABS, Labour force, detailed - electronic delivery, Sep 2015, cat. no. 6291.0.55.001

Graph 3 provides a snapshot of long-term unemployed people by selected age groups and their average duration of job search (in weeks). In September 2015, unemployed people in older age groups experienced the longest average duration, 65 weeks for those aged 55 to 64 years and 63 weeks for those aged 45 to 54 years.

3. Average duration of job search by selected age groups, September 2015 - original

Source: ABS, Labour force, detailed - electronic delivery, Sep 2015, cat. no. 6291.0.55.001

Long-term unemployment ratio The long-term unemployment ratio expresses the number of people unemployed for 52 weeks or more as a proportion of all unemployed people. Graph 4 provides the long-term unemployment ratio from the start of the data series until the most recent period.

4. Long-term unemployment ratio - trend

Source: ABS, Labour force, detailed - electronic delivery, Sep 2015, cat. no. 6291.0.55.001

Long-term unemployment statistics: a quick guide 4

Graph 5 provides a snapshot of the long-term unemployment ratio by state or territory in 2004-05 and 2014-15 (annual averages).

5. Long-term unemployment ratio by state or territory - original

Source: ABS, Labour force, detailed - electronic delivery, Sep 2015, cat. no. 6291.0.55.001

Sources of ABS labour force data The ABS produces labour force estimates, including unemployment, through the monthly Labour Force Survey. Long-term unemployment data is available from: Labour force, detailed - electronic delivery, cat. no. 6291.0.55.001. Unless otherwise noted, estimates are for the original series.

Time series spreadsheets:

14a. Unemployed persons by duration of job search and sex

14b. Unemployed persons by duration of job search and sex - trend, seasonally adjusted, original

Data Cubes:

UM2 - Unemployed persons by duration of job search, state and territory

UM3 - Unemployed persons by age and duration of job search

RM3 - Unemployed persons by duration of job search and labour market region (ASGS) and sex

FM4 - Unemployed persons by duration of job search and relationship in household

Regional data

Regional estimates of unemployment by duration of job search are released in Labour force, detailed - electronic delivery, cat. no. 6291.0.55.001, see Data Cube RM3. This release provides data for the smallest geographic areas available (excluding the Census). Data is from the original (unadjusted) series and due to the small sample sizes the sampling errors with some estimates may be quite high.

Other data sources

The Statistics and Mapping Section of the Parliamentary Library provide regular updates of the long-term unemployment ratio (based on ABS data) in the Monthly Statistical Bulletin, see ‘1.4 Long-term unemployment’. The Library also publishes information on long-term and short-term recipients of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance (other), based on the Department of Social Services’ Labour market and related payments monthly profile, see ‘1.8 Jobseekers receiving allowances’ (also in the Bulletin). Note that the jobseeker figures vary to those released by the ABS due to differing methodologies in calculating unemployed persons and the duration of job search.

Long-term unemployment statistics: a quick guide 5

© Commonwealth of Australia

Creative Commons

With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and to the extent that copyright subsists in a third party, this publication, its logo and front page design are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence.