The "labour market" refers to the system in which people who want work, find employers who want workers. This system is referred to as a market because it follows to a large extent the laws of supply and demand. When there are many people chasing few jobs, there is downward pressure on wage rates. Workers are forced to accept lower rates of pay in order to get job. But when there are many jobs available and only a few workers who want them, there is upward pressure on wage rates. Employers are forced to pay higher rates of pay to get workers.
However the labour market is not a perfect market and there are many other factors that intervene to prevent wage rates from dropping when there is an oversupply of workers for the number of jobs available.
|Table 1: Total Employment|
|Feb 2012||Mar 2012|
|Employed persons ('000)||11 459.2||11 465.7|
|Unemployed persons ('000)||626.6||626.8|
|Unemployment rate (%)||5.2||5.2|
|Participation rate (%)||65.3||65.3|
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue 6202
In March 2008, the total number of people in Australia with a job was 10,649,700. In March 2012, this total had increased to 11,465,700
In March 2008, the unemployment rate was 4.1%, and this was the lowest rate since 1978, when presents records began. The current unemployment rate is 5.2%. In the intervening years there has been an ongoing global financial crisis (GFC).
The following table provides an overview of employment by industry.
|Table 2: Employment by Industry|
|Agriculture, forestry and fishing||364.0||3.42%||348.1||3.27%||354.0||3.32%|
|Electricity, gas and water and waste services||127.0||1.19%||121.9||1.14%||144.2||1.35%|
|Accommodation and food services||684.3||6.42%||734.9||6.90%||752.8||7.07%|
|Transport, postal and warehousing||578.4||5.43%||555.4||5.21%||589.3||5.53%|
|Information media and telecommunications||220.8||2.07%||212.9||2.00%||210.9||1.98%|
|Financial and insurance services||379.1||3.56%||385.2||3.62%||386.8||3.63%|
|Rental, hiring and real estate services||205.0||1.92%||175.1||1.64%||208.0||1.95%|
|Professional, scientific and technical services||812.0||7.62%||826.5||7.76%||858.0||8.06%|
|Administrative and support services||340.5||3.20%||354.6||3.33%||429.8||4.03%|
|Public administration and safety||651.5||6.12%||657.1||6.17%||685.0||6.43%|
|Education and training||791.2||7.43%||821.1||7.71%||877.2||8.24%|
|Health care and social assistance||1106.6||10.39%||1172.2||11.01%||1286.0||12.07%|
|Arts and recreation services||194.1||1.82%||188.8||1.77%||195.8||1.84%|
Data from Table 2 has been used to provide, in Table 3 below, an indication of how industries are changing in terms of employment numbers.
|Table 3: Employment Growth|
|Industries with increasing employment||Industries with decreasing employment||Industries with relatively stable employment|
Employers are increasingly prone to hiring employees under fixed term contracts e.g. one year. This gives employers more flexibility to shape the work force when economic conditions are changing.
A university education is more commonplace than 30 years ago. University graduates face stronger competition for jobs.
Workers need to return to training and education more frequently during their careers. As technology changes, workers have to be updated. Retraining is required when changing careers.
Information technology has made it possible for many people to work from home and still be tied into the business computer network. Working from home has advantages for both employer and employee.
|Advantages for Employee||Advantages for Employer|
|Less expense of going to work||No need to provide employee with office space and furnishings.|
|Time saved not traveling to work||No need to provide employee with equipment|