Notes on the data: Aboriginal labour force

Aboriginal unemployment, 2016

Policy context: Those people who do not have access to secure and satisfying work are less likely to have an adequate income; and unemployment and underemployment are generally associated with reduced life opportunities and poorer health and wellbeing. Although the relationship between unemployment and health is complex and varies for different population groups, there is consistent evidence from research that unemployment is associated with adverse health outcomes; and unemployment has a direct effect on physical and mental health over and above the effects of socioeconomic status, poverty, risk factors, or prior ill-health [1] [2].

Readers should note that the official measure of unemployment, which this indicator is designed to emulate, does not take account of hidden unemployment (measured by the labour force participation rate) or underemployment (resulting from the loss of full-time jobs and the creation of part-time jobs). Alternative labour force indicators, which address these deficiencies, suggest the real level of unemployment in Australia is in excess of twice the official rate, with wider variations at a regional level [3].


  1. Mathers CD, Schofield DJ. The health consequences of unemployment: the evidence. Med J Aust. 1998;168(4):178-82.
  2. Dollard MF, Winefield AH. Mental health: overemployment, underemployment, unemployment and healthy jobs. Aust e-J Adv Mental Hlth. 2002:1(3).
  3. Barrett S, Nukic S, Treuren G. Beyond the unemployment rate: a reinterpretation of the Australian labour market [Internet]. In: Wrightson G (ed.), Creating a culture of full employment: incorporating the 7th Path to Full Employment Conference and 12th National Conference on Unemployment. Callaghan, NSW: University of Newcastle, Centre of Full Employment and Equity; 2005.

Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic outcomes (based on IRSEO) and Remoteness Area


Numerator: Aboriginal unemployed people aged 15 years and over

Denominator: Aboriginal people in the labour force aged 15 years and over

Detail of analysis: Per cent

Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on the ABS Census 2016 data.

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