Notes on the data: Labour force

Unemployment, June 2021


Policy context:  Those 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 for small geographical areas, 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). As of September 2018, Australia's trended underemployment rate (the proportion of underemployed to the total labour force) remained high in historical terms at 8.3%, but below the peak of 8.8% recorded in March 2017 [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. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Underemployment in Australia, 6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, September 2018. Available from:; last accessed 4 February 2020.


Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area

These estimates, from the Small Area Labour Markets - Australia data series [1], are based on the Structure Preserving Estimation (SPREE) methodology which enables the generation of small area unemployment, unemployment rate and labour force estimates. They differ from the figures both for people receiving an unemployment benefit (as different rules are applied to eligibility for a welfare payment) and being considered as unemployed in the official labour force statistics produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The unemployment estimates presented are based on the 'smoothed' data series, where the data have been averaged over four quarters to minimise the variability inherent in small areas estimates. The estimates presented are derived from two primary data sources:

  • Current recipients of Youth Allowance (other) [Note 2] and current recipients of Newstart Allowance who are not on a zero rate of payment, by SA2; and
  • ABS Labour Force Survey data by ABS Statistical Area Level 4 (SA4). The ABS Labour Force Survey samples private and non‐private dwellings (approximately 26,000 households) across Australia and covers about 0.32 per cent of the population. More details about the methodology underpinning this survey are included in the ABS publication, Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).


  1. Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. Small Area Labour Markets - March quarter 2019. Available from:; last accessed 4 February 2020.

Additional notes

Note 1:  LGA data were provided on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2021 Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (ASGS) and were converted to the ABS 2016 ASGS on which the data are published. Data provided by Statistical Area Level 2 (ASGS 2016) were aggregated to PHAs.

Note 2:  Youth Allowance (other) is largely comprised of unemployed people aged 16 to 21 looking for full-time work or undertaking approved activities, such as part-time study or training. This excludes Youth Allowance recipients who are full-time students or undertaking an apprenticeship/ traineeship.

Note 3:  The Department notes with respect to these estimates: While the underlying methodology used to produce the small area estimates in SALM is robust for the vast majority of areas, in a small number of cases it can result in figures that do not accurately reflect labour market conditions within the region. As this is the case for the SA2 and LGA of Aurukun, these figures are not published.


Geography:  Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Quintiles within PHNs, and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Unemployed people aged 15 years and over


Denominator:  People in the labour force aged 15 years and over


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source: Small Area Labour Markets - Australia, Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, June Quarter 2021.


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