Snapshot of employment by industry, 2021


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases quarterly estimates of employed people by industry (in their main job, if a person holds more than one job) in the publication Labour Force, Australia, Detailed. Quarterly data is available since November 1984, with the most recent data being February 2021.

Estimates of employment by industry division are currently available in seasonally adjusted and original series. The ABS suspended the trend series in April 2020 due to the uncertainty of estimate adjustments related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For finer level detail on industry of employment (e.g. sub-division), the ABS release original (unadjusted) estimates. Industry data is classified across 19 divisions, according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (Revision 2.0) (see Chapter 8 – The detailed classification).

Given the ongoing interest in employment by industry, two previously published tables have been updated for comparable periods. Table 1 presents estimates from the seasonally adjusted series (note this differs from earlier published tables, which presented trend data) and Table 2 presents a four-quarter average of the original series by sex. The estimates represent national figures; however, they are also available by state/territory, greater capital city/balance of state, and labour market region (Statistical Area Level 4, or SA4). For different time periods, or for other employment characteristics, refer to the detailed release. For additional information on this theme, refer to the Parliamentary Library publication, Employment by industry statistics: a quick guide (published 8 July 2020).

Table 1: employed people by industry—Feb 2019, 2020 and 2021 (quarterly, seasonally adjusted)

Employed people Proportion of total employed
Feb-19 Feb-20 Feb-21 Change Feb-20
to Feb-21
Feb-19 Feb-20 Feb-21
Industry of employment (Division) ('000) ('000) ('000) (%) (%) (%) (%)
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing 333.6 324.9 325.4 0.2 2.6 2.5 2.5
Mining 247.9 241.5 252.1 4.4 1.9 1.9 1.9
Manufacturing 866.0 922.8 902.0 -2.3 6.8 7.1 6.9
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services 150.3 132.8 151.1 13.8 1.2 1.0 1.2
Construction 1,146.9 1,183.5 1,153.9 -2.5 9.0 9.1 8.9
Wholesale Trade 386.3 390.6 390.9 0.1 3.0 3.0 3.0
Retail Trade 1,280.7 1,244.4 1,322.0 6.2 10.0 9.6 10.2
Accommodation and Food Services 911.3 937.3 851.0 -9.2 7.1 7.2 6.5
Transport, Postal and Warehousing 658.9 648.3 673.9 3.9 5.2 5.0 5.2
Information Media and Telecommunications 217.2 216.4 206.3 -4.7 1.7 1.7 1.6
Financial and Insurance Services 441.5 466.8 469.7 0.6 3.5 3.6 3.6
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services 214.4 219.8 214.9 -2.2 1.7 1.7 1.7
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 1,127.8 1,168.0 1,225.1 4.9 8.8 9.0 9.4
Administrative and Support Services 422.4 434.6 383.1 -11.9 3.3 3.3 2.9
Public Administration and Safety 858.3 824.6 848.4 2.9 6.7 6.3 6.5
Education and Training 1,025.7 1,125.1 1,089.6 -3.2 8.0 8.6 8.4
Health Care and Social Assistance 1,691.8 1,795.8 1,809.7 0.8 13.3 13.8 13.9
Arts and Recreation Services 250.9 247.9 242.5 -2.2 2.0 1.9 1.9
Other Services 525.6 489.2 505.4 3.3 4.1 3.8 3.9
Total employed 12,758.2 13,011.7 13,016.6 0.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Notes: the estimates for Feb 2019 differ to those previously published due to the use of a different series (seasonally adjusted rather than trend). The sum of the components may not add to the total due to the seasonal adjustment process.

Table 2: share of industry employment by sex—Feb 2021 (average of four-quarters ending, original)

Employed people Proportion of employed
Men Women Persons Men Women Persons
Industry of employment (Division) ('000) ('000) ('000) (%) (%) (%)
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing 235.7 115.2 350.9 3.5 1.9 2.8
Mining 202.6 43.0 245.6 3.0 0.7 1.9
Manufacturing 606.7 253.4 860.1 9.1 4.2 6.8
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services 119.9 37.6 157.5 1.8 0.6 1.2
Construction 1,002.8 160.9 1,163.7 15.0 2.7 9.2
Wholesale Trade 253.3 133.4 386.8 3.8 2.2 3.1
Retail Trade 572.9 681.2 1,254.1 8.6 11.4 9.9
Accommodation and Food Services 354.3 420.6 774.9 5.3 7.0 6.1
Transport, Postal and Warehousing 495.9 136.6 632.4 7.4 2.3 5.0
Information Media and Telecommunications 116.1 78.4 194.5 1.7 1.3 1.5
Financial and Insurance Services 251.6 232.5 484.1 3.8 3.9 3.8
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services 107.9 104.7 212.6 1.6 1.7 1.7
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 667.6 491.8 1,159.5 10.0 8.2 9.1
Administrative and Support Services 207.3 201.9 409.2 3.1 3.4 3.2
Public Administration and Safety 430.4 430.2 860.6 6.4 7.2 6.8
Education and Training 307.1 775.6 1,082.7 4.6 13.0 8.5
Health Care and Social Assistance 395.0 1,376.6 1,771.7 5.9 23.0 14.0
Arts and Recreation Services 109.8 101.1 210.9 1.6 1.7 1.7
Other Services 252.4 211.5 463.9 3.8 3.5 3.7
Total employed 6,689.2 5,986.2 12,675.5 100.0 100.0 100.0

Source: ABS, Labour Force, Australia, detailed, Mar 2021 [Table 04, Data cube EQ06 and Library calculations], retrieved 25 May 2021.

Other useful sources

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment publishes a selection of ABS industry statistics on their Labour Market Information Portal (LMIP), including regional data. The ‘ABS Labour Force Regions – data’ enables users to select a region using an interactive map. SA4 summary profiles give labour force indicators and the more detailed summary provides industry data: employment; employment status (full-time/part-time); employment by gender; and employment distribution for SA4 vs state. The ‘employment by industry – five-year time series’ provides selected period snapshots (for example, November 2015, November 2019 and November 2020). The Department also publishes the regional ‘Employment projections by industry’ (level of employment change) for the five years to May 2024.

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