Broadening access to work


Theme: Prosperous
Dimension: Broad opportunities for employment and well-paid, secure jobs


  • Employment rate, population aged 15‑64
  • Participation rate, population aged 15-64
  • Gender pay gap

Why does this matter

Widespread access to employment is the key to a healthy, happy and prosperous society.

Has there been progress 

With employment rates at record highs, more people than ever before have broadening access to work opportunities.

The participation rate, which expresses the labour force as a share of the population, has increased substantially over recent decades and has recently been around record high levels.

The rise in overall participation can be largely attributed to increased women’s workforce participation driven by changes in social attitudes, workplace flexibility, and improved education opportunities and outcomes.

How does this differ across cohorts

Despite strong employment outcomes at a whole-of-economy level, labour market inequalities persist for many groups.

  • Employment rates for people with disability have remained persistently low over the past decade.
  • While the employment rate for First Nations people (aged 15-64) has increased over time, from 48 per cent in 2006 to 52 per cent in 2021, it is still 22 percentage points lower than for other Australians in 2021.
  • The employment rate for women has increased over time, to 75 per cent for women aged 15 to 64 years in May 2023. This increase reflects a range of trends including changing social attitudes, women’s increased educational attainment and structural shifts such as caring work, traditionally done unpaid in the home, moving into the formal economy.
  • However, women have lower labour force participation, lower average hours worked and experience a persistent gender pay gap. The gender pay gap (measured as the difference in women’s and men’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings) has fallen only 2.9 percentage points in 28 years, to 13.3 per cent in November 2022.
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