Latest Census data: How Australians learn, work & commute

Monday, October 23, 2017

Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics has released their second round of data gathered in the 2016 Census. This data reveals a fascinating snapshot of how we work and are educated, with the number of Australians with a university degree up 6% in a decade, a higher proportion of Australians driving to work, and more of us working in part-time employment.

A more educated Australia

More than one in two Australians have undertaken further study since leaving school. The latest results show that 56% of Australians over the age of 15 (9.6 million people) currently hold a post-school qualification.

We are also more likely to have participated in higher education with close to one in four adult Australians now holding a Bachelor Degree or above (24%), up 6% from a decade ago. The rise in postgraduate learning has been even more marked, with an additional 300,000 Australians holding a postgraduate degree since 2011, an increase of 46%. Residents of Australia’s capital cities are almost twice as likely as those in regional areas to have a university qualification (30% compared to 16%). Australians with vocational qualifications (certificates III & IV) have seen increases (13%) at around half the rate of university degrees (23%)

The three most common qualifications, by field of study, are Management and Commerce, Engineering and Society and Culture. The popularity of Society and Culture (which includes areas such as politics, law and economics) has risen by 29% since 2011.

The highest growth has been in the traditional areas of study: Accounting (+64,189), General Nursing (+64,022) and Business management (+61,462). Aged care is growing too, now ranked as the fourth highest growth category increasing from 60,702 in 2011 to 97,024 today.

The gender gap

Over the last 50 years, women have massively increased their labour force participation while men have decreased theirs. In 1966 83% of men were employed compared to 34% of women. The latest Census results show that 65% of men are currently employed compared to 56% of women. Labour force participation for women peaks in the post-child rearing years among women aged between 45-49, with 76% employed in this age group. For men, participation peaks in the mid to late 30’s as does hours worked, averaging 42 hours per week until the late 50’s.

Women have been closing the post-school qualification gap with 54% of women compared to 58% of men holding a qualification. In 2006, 51% of males held a post-school education compared to 42% of women – a gap of 9%. Ten years later, this gap has narrowed to just 4%.

While women have increased their paid work participation and hours, men have not closed the gap in unpaid domestic work. Employed men were almost twice as likely to do less than 5 hours of unpaid domestic work per week (60%) as women (36%) and working women were more than three times as likely to be doing at least 15 hours of domestic work per week as men (27% compared to 8%).

One in five working males are tradies

More than one in five (22%) working males are tradesman or technicians with the three most popular male-dominated occupations being electricians, carpenters/joiners and truck drivers. For women, the top occupations are registered nurses, general clerks and receptionists.

The Census also revealed that the most popular occupation for both men and women is a general sales assistant although retail trade and wholesale trade are two of just three sectors that employ fewer workers today than in 2011. The biggest fall in employment by industry is manufacturing, which has seen the loss of 219,141 workers in 5 years.

Part-time employment and the gig economy

Over the past five years the Australian labour force population has grown by over 800,000 people, rising from 10,658,465 in 2011 to 11,471,298 in 2016. The gig economy is on the rise, with the number of Australians employed part-time having risen by 14% since 2011. The number of full-time workers, by comparison, has only risen by 4%. Today, one in three working Australians are employed part-time (up 3% since 2011). 25 years ago, just one in ten workers were employed part-time.

Australian’s working hard but trying to get a balance

Australians are most likely to work between 35-40 hours per week, with two in five (40%) working these hours. The Census revealed that some Australians may be developing a better work-life balance, with the percentage of Australians working more than 40 hours a week dropping from 29% in 2011, to 26% in 2016. Over the same period, the proportion of workers employed less than 25 hours per week increased slightly from 22% to 23%.

Getting to work

The proportion of workers driving to work has increased by 0.5% since 2011. Nearly seven in ten Australians (69%) drive themselves to work while an additional 5% ride along as passengers. Today an additional 466,885 are commuting by car compared to five year ago.

The goal of ‘walkable cities’ and ‘active transport’ needs further focus as the percentage of people walking to work declining from 4.2% in 2011 to 3.9% currently, and those using a bicycle to get to work also declined slightly from 1.2% to 1.1%.

Adelaide residents are the most likely to travel to work by car, with four in five (80%) travelling to work by car. Meanwhile, Hobart takes the prize for the most accessible city with 8% of workers walking their commute. Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, leads travel by public transport with nearly double the proportion of commuters travelling by train, bus, tram or ferry than any other capital city (Sydney 21%, Melbourne 13%, Brisbane 11%, Adelaide 8%, Perth 8%, Hobart 5%, Darwin 7% and Canberra 7%).

Media Commentary

For media commentary please contact Kimberley Linco on 02 8824 3422 or

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


google food insecurity consumerism tattoos indonesia wealth inequality mortgage school satisfaction Australian schools USA commuters goals royal influence christmas panel local communities office rent global generaion Northern Territory divorce census fail hills shire capital city US culturally diverse TAS sports Hills Shire Council rule keeper social researcher sydneysiders royal entrepreneur Royals rain dessert educated public speaking micro business performance Aussie 2013 speakers pack the australian dream workplace seasons charities Deaths supply and demand media dream global generation product balance cancel plans Australian Trends demographic trends the lucky country wolloomooloo national private wealth cost of living forecast brand experience students Gen X wealth and income distribution financial planning city video future generations teleworking aged care puzzle Christchurch global award IT Specialists overcast Jura Coffee shopper's pick 2016 socialising impact The Daily Edition urban development wages rumbling tummies visual The ABC of XYZ baby boom earn greatness mccrinlde Australia Day trades business slideshare group session community event affordability narcissism Kiwi 24 million couple housing growth organisational culture environment mover and shaker property brands digital australia speakers cost New South Wales study English employmee Skilling insights australian communities trends report resource Performance Sentiment Index James Ward hello fresh the great screenage renting change research pack millionth employment litter paying to work parenting internships apartment lifestyle graphs government shbc group TEDx weather mccrindle in the media growing population schools students qualitative research visualisation future TDE workshop children demographic transformations sydney metro contiki family meals not for profit research communities Christmas in Australia hornsby australian mining boom sustainable insight surnames Australia street sector vegetarian cartodb housing affordability christian ideas sophie renton Financial Planning Association of Australia education optimistic emerging technologies Australian Census builders ageing population work-life megatrends FPA screenage year 7 research visualisation Crime Rates presentations local innovative online shopping safe 2009 Canberra winter Duchess of Cambridge residents forecasting christmas trees prince george logan survey design Births EFF Foodbank Australia communications February 16 wage ultimo Sydney Lifestyle Study office opening engagement child hunger curiosity speaker responsive demographic analysis 2020 transport demography choice workers cultural diveristy house price rise food bank growth of sydney care support volunteer Education Future Forum village omnibus Australian Dream publication keynote speaker living economic acf15 Word Up youth unemployment baby Northern Beaches McCridle bureau criminal darwin clothing future proofing resilience Christmas day Macquarie University state social impact Millennial demographic sunburnt country internet future proof tertiary education Australian Communities Trends norwest generation alpha Queensland university degree australian communities forum huffington post cold media activity baby boomers Territory McCrindle Keynote Speakers career gen alpha Merry Christmas learning styles mother's day Tuesday Trends Jura Australia names screenagers marriages PSI award winner holidays casual real technology Black Friday Western Australia What is food insecurity? owning a home national crime rates cica water not for profit debate Tasmania participants investing nativity scene church DIY survey 2015 anzac trends of 2016 social trends WA trends the future coffee lovers pharmacies families Sydney Hills Business Chamber high school Vocational education the average aussie priorities who is generation z mythbusting Wellington economy Engineering Manager Christmas presents volunteering data faith and belief woolworths Real Estate schools property price TED talk Mark McCrindle in the media ACF finance wealth distribution story in the media education future report TEDx Speaker event Sydney social issues parents organisations unaffordable sydneycity weekly earnings social commentary Generation Y salary Maxim Accounting urban living index christianity digital economy volunteering gig Black Friday Sales CBD australians staying home more education research dare to dream JOMO moderators guide VET sector social research census data snapshot social analyst personal growth educhat mateship education future 1994 newspaper changing face of sydney global retail Lower Hunter Region brisbane personalities Lower Hunter REIV Conference Research Executive royal family teaching housing trends divorce rate ACT Report Sydney population relevant earning maiden workforce spend Australian community trends financial future rich focus group SA area ease of travel sydney market princess charlotte society trends Financial Planning Association post rationalism social commentator suburban living work census results customer recap tableau social lives communication news Understanding and Engaging with Generation Z repayments trend tuesday learning women baby name trends VET GPO leadership workshop income new york times maiden names identity ethnography Cobbitty-Leppington Real Estate Institute of Victoria experience VIC house price sentiments business index wealth and income staff Aussies Gen Y work mates Elderslie-Harrington park moreton bay year 12 summer tea infographics suburb friends employmer local community nfp cooking monarchy capital cities etiquette Tuesday Trend census 2016 generation Z housing rise of local Sydney keynote speaker NBRS social life Kirsten Brewer china future of education property development eliane miles travelling leadership surname grandparents potts point Population Clock future-proof Business analysis data community engagement society South Australia hills know the times happiness communicate market research vegemite poor Social Trend teacher case study Christmas research 10 years HSC CPI home research data australian community trends report research report wealth New Zeland list generations Love teach marrickville analysis australian real estate average aussie Wodonga focus groups retirement population milestone sydney speaker professional speaker social analysis Financial Planning Week do people still change their surname after marriage? collaborative in depth interviews Willowdale belief long weekend urban taskforce Australian Population india New Zealand financial report cloudy days Black Friday in Australia going out outsourcing easy rider financial fears commuting investment blaxland Myth live the dream social media gender manly youth "know the times" sydney property market politics daily telegraph 2016 census gen z Generation X child care life tv ACF17 1995 Work place mccrindle tea pharmacy Charlotte keynote winter blues national wealth kate middleton house financial dreams investor brand researcher careers faux-cilising suburbs sydneysider religion McCrindle Speaker proactive forum small business ipswich friendship January 26th gold coast goal 2012 sector wide study selfie sydney event online leadersip research on coffee HR ageing Netflix Mark McCrindle Assistant Store Manager new office urban living shifts young people high density low density Australia Day 2017 social change learn training dreaming households cultural diversity McCrindle Speakers affordable debt celebration charity Christmas lunch google for education house prices waverton car world youth day 2016 census results staying in dreams baby names australia report conference speaker university NSW NEETs millenials ashley fell cars baby name predictions sector wide Mount Annan-Currant Hill thought leadership futurist faux-ciliser FOMO Adelaide Australians stay home states breakfast Retail Geoff Brailey deloitte optus my business awards entrepreneurs of today Do It Yourself data analyst domestic giving Scouts intern facts trends of 2017 public holiday events demographer public speaker Australian Families leader fresh hunger lalor park shopping royal baby Hornsby Shire Council Channel 7 education sector teachers TED internship annual income geomapping authenticity ferry mccrindle baby names report ashley mckenzie eliane faith property market social world housing market christmas 2017 fears professional development conference consumer DESTEL 40 million mobile apartments rising house prices emerging generations professional presenters bondi grave decision toys 24,000,000 networking healthy future cancelling event NFP event motivate future of shopping mentor SMSF growth not-for-profit wedding Wagga Wagga NBRS Architecture volunteers train learner SRE non profit budget collaboration millennials donate offenders australian social research 1975 System's Architect baby names happy holidays global generations data visualisation Australian Home community financial independence daily commute average Australian culture Christmas Stats results quote Channel Seven relational the changing face of infographic population growth unemployment Andrew Duffin public transport groceries pyrmont home owner twentyseventeen hopes Caregiver food population map 2017 household marketing average sydneysider increasing densification men the hills wellbeing townhouses home ownership Gen Z Expert younger generations engage purpose social shifts commute ACF2017 entertainment equip #censusfail jobs employers sun define data analysis land of the middle class student future of work professional services generational trends skills tips click spirituality gig economy statistics research services baby name stats urban social researchers Christmas data showreel speajer tuesday Christmas season Northern beaches Event hobart school students meetings Melbourne Valentine’s Day easter research seasons greetings conferences coffee mythbusters media commentary cash 2014 Australian Bureau of Statistics census buildings alpha optus Christmas day weather mccrindle research micro apartments Bathburst poker master socialites social enquiry workplace culture World Water Day Sydney’s south west 1980 media release professional marriage travel menai work from home Res Vis the hills shire program chairty global financial crisis storytelling Northern Beaches Christian School rental stress REIV National Conference perth Hunter Valley presentation demographics donation Australian communities crows nest father's day conference presentation Queensland: QLD high density living follow Australian demographics earnings language environmental scanning SMART aged care population sunny days entrepreneurial challenge emerging trends school aussie culture generation energy 1968 trend young australians victoria ABS holiday ACF 2016 23 million faux-cilise thrive sydney hills medicine neutral bay Research Director high density apartments innovation trends analyst infographic wall bus ACT middle class renter of the future cancelling plans shopping centre plans crime jobs of the future office space NT typical australian interactive money