Dynamics of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Labour Markets

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Boyd Hunter https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0362-4882
Matthew Gray https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7295-3626


Indigenous, labour market, social policy, labour economics


This paper uses data from the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset to conduct the first representative analysis of labour force transitions for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The main finding is that Indigenous females and males are more than 10 percentage points more likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to move from employment in 2006 to non-employment in 2011. Indigenous females had relatively high employment instability, which was probably largely driven by the increased probability of part-time employed Indigenous women leaving employment between 2006 and 2011. For Indigenous males, the findings reflect the high rate of movement out of employment from both part-time and full-time employment. Younger Indigenous Australians and those living in remote areas have a substantially lower flow into employment and a higher flow out of employment than their non-Indigenous counterparts. This paper considers several possible explanations for these transitions, such as marginal attachment to the labour force, job search methods that rely on family and friends, labour market segmentation where Indigenous workers tend to secure less stable jobs (because of educational attainment, skills and, possibly, discrimination) and the relative scarcity of Indigenous-friendly  workplaces.

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