This paper examines trends in the employment rate of Indigenous Australians and how these trends vary by demographic and geographic characteristics, with a particular focus on changes between 2011 and 2016.
While overall growth in the employment rate was slow, there are wide disparities in employment performance by region. In nonremote areas of Australia, the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employment rates fell slightly between 2011 and 2016. In remote areas, the gap widened. This was due to both the demise of the Community Development Employment Projects scheme and weak labour market conditions in remote areas over this period. In general, the growth of Indigenous women’s employment rates has outperformed that of Indigenous men, partly because Indigenous women are more likely than men to work in occupations and industries where employment opportunities have been growing quickly and will continue to do so in the near future. Increasing education and skill levels among the Indigenous population will be the key to further improving employment performance in the future. For the Indigenous population, rapid increases in educational attainment between 2011 and 2016 helped to offset the effects of the weak labour market. However, the average education level of the Indigenous population remains low. This is particularly the case for the large cohort of the working-age population who are currently not employed, the bulk of whom have no formal qualifications.