Ever wondered where we are all working these days? The latest release of the ABS Labor Force Survey tells us.(click to expand)


Health care and social assistance industries have come in as Australia’s largest employer in February, beating the retail sector for only the second time (the first being back in August 2009). Together, these two industries provide over 1 in 5 of all jobs in the Australian economy.

However, taking a longer look at the retail and health care sectors, while health care employment is projected to grow substantially over the next 30 years or so to deal with our aging population and increasing demand for all types of health services, retail will probably resume its title of the nations largest employer over the short to medium term, as it recovers from the recent downturn.

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If we look at how employment by industry has changed over the last 3 years, from the peak of the last boom (let’s say in Feb 2007 to give us a nice 3 year window) through to February 2010, there’s some interesting winners and losers.


IT has lead the way in job reductions, with real estate, manufacturing and retail all contracting in terms of their overall employment contributions. Meanwhile, education, health and – surprisingly – professional services have been the three big employment growth engines.

Yet, while these changes are interesting food for thought, when we take a broader look at the proportion of employment that each industry provides for our economy and how that has changed over the last three years, the most noticeable thing is that nothing has changed dramatically at all.