Sunday, January 17, 2010

Australian Employment - the nitty gritty details

In response to some discussion in my recent "Top 5 Graphs of the Week" article, I have decided to do a little piece that drills deeper into the details on Australian employment stats.

First up, the graph that started it:
This chart shows a reasonably clear topping out of the unemployment rate. This is somewhat intuitively sensible given that the Australian economy has been performing reasonably well on a GDP basis, helped in part by fundamental strength, lack of banking sector problems (compared to e.g. US), stimulus spending, loose monetary policy, doing business with China (China stimulus spending).

But what we were interested in first of all is the breakdown between part-timers and full-timers.
This chart shows the change in seasonally adjusted Australian jobs broken into full-time and part-time. You can see that in the past four months of positive job growth, it's been mostly driven by FT (78.3k) vs PT (57.4k).

On a year over year percentage change basis you can see that there has been a clear trend of the shifting of full-timers to part-timers (conclusion drawn on the basis that while full-time growth is negative, part-time growth is positive). We can see that they are starting to converge though. The theory behind this is that in hard times you can either let people go or cut their hours down (convert them to part-timers). Thus if things were improving you'd expect more full-timers. But then you could argue that on the other side of the recession employers might start loading part-timers up with more hours...
This chart is based on data reported by the ABS - it is untouched by me i.e. simply graphed (as opposed to the chart that follows). Anyway one conclusion to be drawn is that on average Australians are working less! But seriously, this data piece is lacking because it misses out a lot of the detail, but it is an effective if rough tool for this context.
This chart is based on data I chopped up from the ABS - I took aggregate hours worked per month and divided it by total persons in employment each month and then just assumed the average month has 4 weeks. It does show roughly the same trend as the previous chart, but is a bit more choppy as it is monthly vs the other one being quarterly.

Point to take from the average working hours per week is that both charts show a tentative bottoming out if not uptick. Thus on that basis it's probably safe to assume that the jobs recovery there is somewhat genuine e.g. the pattern of working more hours, hiring more temps/part-timers, and then getting the full-timers in, seems to be playing through.

Now all that's left to do is look at the rest of the Australian economy.... (next time)


All data was from the Australian Bureau of Statistics
Here and Here

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