THE ABS has released data showing that in September 2011, there were almost 6.0 million people, or a third of all Australians aged 15 years and over not in the labour force.
Over half (52%) of people not in the labour force were aged 60 years or over. Nearly two-thirds (60%) were women.
Of the 900,000 people who were not in the labour force, who wanted work and were available to start within 4 weeks, there were 90,700 discouraged job seekers (52,300 men and 59,500 women). These are people who wanted to work and were also available to start work in the next four weeks, but were not actively looking for a job because they believed they would not find one.
The number of discouraged job seekers decreased again in 2011, down from 102,000 in 2010 after a peak of 111,800 workers in 2009.
Discouraged job seekers reported that their main reason for giving up looking for work was that they were 'Considered too old by employers' (36%). This was followed by 'Lacked necessary skills, training or experience' (16%). Over half of discouraged job seekers (56%) were aged over 55 years; while a further 13% were aged under 24 years.
There were 247,600 women not in the labour force because they were caring for children who wanted to work but were not actively looking for work. They cited preferring to look after children and cost of child care as the main reasons for not looking for work.
The proportion of 25-34 year olds not in the labour force who are attending an educational institution has been rising steadily. In 2011, 19% (99,900) of 25-35 year olds reported 'Attending an educational institution' as their main activity when not in the labour force. This was up from 17% in 2009 and 14% in 2007.
Further details can be found in Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia, September 2011 (cat. no. 6220.0).