Small Area Labour Markets publication


The Department produces quarterly regional estimates of unemployment and the unemployment rate at the Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) and Local Government Area (LGA) level.

December quarter 2019

Small Area Labour Markets

Changes to the geographic structure

As of the June quarter 2019 edition of Small Area Labour Markets (SALM), the Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) estimates are now based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016 Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). The geographical structure used in SALM is now aligned with the most recent ABS Census of Population and Housing.

Due to changes in the ASGS between the 2011 and 2016 editions, there were a number of breaks in series at the SA2 level. These were due, largely, to SA2s being split into multiple, smaller SA2s but there were also a small number of amalgamations and other breaks. For more information, please see the SALM 2016 Changeover User Guide, available on the SALM website.

Smoothed estimates not available for all SA2s and LGAs

Due to the breaks in series noted above, and because the production of smoothed estimates requires four consecutive quarters of unsmoothed data, smoothed estimates for SA2s or Local Government Areas (LGAs) that experienced a break in the unsmoothed series between the March and June quarters 2019 will not be available until the March quarter 2020 data are released. In the interim, the only available estimates are from the unsmoothed series, available on the Explanatory Notes page of the SALM website. As is always the case for unsmoothed data, please exercise significant caution when examining these figures, as they exhibit far greater volatility than the smoothed series.


Small Area Labour Markets presents regional estimates of unemployment and the unemployment rate at two small area levels:

  • For approximately 2,200 Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Statistical Area Level 2s (SA2s), on a State/Territory and Metropolitan/Non-metropolitan basis, provided in Table 1. For the States and the Northern Territory, estimates for the Capital City and the rest of each State are also provided; and
  • For each of Australia’s 540 Local Government Areas (LGAs), provided in Table 2.

The estimates in Table 1 and 2 are smoothed using a four-quarter average to minimise the variability inherent in small area estimates. A description of the methodology used to prepare the estimates in this publication is presented in the Explanatory Notes on this site as well as in the PDF publication.

Caution: Highly disaggregated estimates of unemployment and the unemployment rate at the SA2 and LGA level can display significant variability and should be viewed with caution, particularly in regions where the SA4 level unemployment data that underpin the SALM estimates have been exhibiting considerable volatility.As a result, quarter-to-quarter comparisons may not be indicative of actual movements in the labour market. It is therefore recommended that year-on-year comparisons be used and that large movements in the SA2 and LGA data be viewed with caution.

Further, where large movements in the SA2 and LGA estimates are encountered, or in SA2s and LGAs with a small labour force, users are advised to examine Census labour force data in addition to the SALM estimates.

Labour market developments at the small area level

The December quarter 2019 SALM estimates show that more than half (52.3 per cent) of the SA2s for which smoothed estimates are available recorded a decrease in their unemployment rate over the year to the December quarter 2019.

In the December quarter 2019, 59.5 per cent of all SA2s for which smoothed estimates are available recorded an unemployment rate of less than 5.0 per cent while 10.4 per cent of SA2s recorded an unemployment rate of 10.0 per cent or more

Next Issue

It is anticipated that the March quarter 2020 issue of SALM will be released in July 2020.

Contact details

This report was prepared by the Labour Market Analysis and Advice Section within the Labour Market Research and Analysis Branch. For further information, please contact Joel Meehan on (02) 6240 5358, or email the SALM inbox