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The Australian National University

Location or qualifications? Revisiting Indigenous employment through an analysis of census place-of-work data

Working Paper 61 / 2009

Abstract

One of the potential constraints on achieving the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) employment target is location. It has been noted by a number of authors that the very different geographic distributions of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations is a key factor in explaining the former’s socioeconomic disadvantage relative to the latter. The aim of this paper is to revisit the potential role of location in explaining poor Indigenous employment outcomes through an analysis of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians’ place of work. The analysis presented in the paper focuses on a number of issues including the distribution of Indigenous employment, inward and outward flows, and commuting behaviour, as well as local employment prospects. One of the main conclusions from the analysis is that Indigenous Australians live in areas that have a slightly higher number of jobs per usual resident than do non-Indigenous Australians. Ultimately, the results presented in this paper support an emphasis on Indigenous labour supply in meeting COAG’s employment targets. It would appear that it is the ability of the Indigenous population to secure the jobs that are available, rather than the location of jobs, that is most important in explaining Indigenous labour under-utilisation.

ISSN: 
1442 3871
ISBN: 
0 7315 4960 0