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

Faith, belief and churchgoing in Australia

Thursday, March 24, 2016

While it is a stretch to describe diverse, 21st Century Australia as a Christian country, the national data on religious identity from the 2011 Census shows the majority of Australians (61.1%) identify their religion as Christianity, a slight decline from 63.9% in the 2006 Census. More than a quarter of the population (25.3%) identify as Catholic, with the second most common Christian affiliation being Anglican (17.1%) and third is the Uniting Church (5%).

The most common non-Christian religions were Buddhism (2.5%), Islam (2.2%) and Hinduism (1.3%). Not only is the total proportion of Australians identifying with a Christian denomination 24 times larger than the second most common religion (Buddhism), but Christianity is 8 times larger than all non-Christian religions combined (7.2%).

The rise in no religion

The fastest growing religion as identified over the two last census’ has been Hinduism, which increased from 0.7% to 1.3%, an increase of 127,410 adherents. However, the biggest growth in total numbers has been the rise in no religion from 18.7% in 2006 to 22.3% in 2011, which represents an increase in more than 1 million people over this time from 3.7 million to 4.8 million. Such has been the rise in Australians selecting no religion, it is now the most common “belief” category in 5 of Australia’s 8 states and territories (Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory). Yet in both Victoria and Queensland, Catholic (26.7% and 23.8% respectively) comes ahead of no religion (24.0% and 22.1%) while in NSW- Australia’s most religious state, both Catholic (27.5%) and Anglican (19.9%) are ahead of no religion (17.9%).

Not only is NSW the most religious state but Sydney is Australia’s most religious capital city, with those selecting no religion (17.6%) significantly lower than is found in Brisbane (22.8%), the city of churches – Adelaide (28.1%), Canberra (28.9%) and Hobart, Australia’s least religious capital, (29.4%).

Majority believe in God

Not only does most of Australia identify with Christianity, but more than half (55%) of the population believes in God, as defined as the Creator of the universe, the Supreme Being.

However, there are signs of fading belief in God with the majority of the oldest generation aged over 70 believing in God (61%) along with the majority of the fifty and sixty-something Baby Boomers (53%) compared to a slight minority of late thirties and forty-something Gen Xers (46%) and Generation Y (41%) but less than 1 in 3 Gen Z’s (31%) who are today’s teenagers and early twenties.

The most common category for Australians’ belief in God is that they are believers, who believe now and always have (47%) and second are non-believers who don’t believe in God and never have (26%). Although, changers, who used to believe and now don’t (18%) are twice as common as converters, who believe in God now but didn’t used to (8%).

1 in 6 Australians are church-goers

Regular church attendance has also been declining over the past few generations and has more than halved in around 4 decades from 1 in 3 Australians (36% in 1972) to 1 in 6 currently (15%, National Church Life Survey 2011). While in decline, the total numbers of church goers nationally total around 3.6 million Australians, which makes church much more attended than the other Australian religion - professional sport. In fact, when thinking about this Easter weekend, 13% of Australians say they will definitely go to church with an additional 10% stating that they probably will- and if they all do, that’s more than 4 million adults, plus many kids in tow.

Aussies come clean on national littering habits

Thursday, August 27, 2015

McCrindle Research is delighted to highlight some of the key findings from our recent Litter in Australia Report commissioned by Keep Australia Beautiful.

This week is Keep Australia Beautiful Week so there is no better time to highlight the attitudes Australians have towards litter.

It’s official – almost everyone hates litter (99% state that it bothers them) however more than 1 in 4 (29%) confess to littering!

The main excuses offered are that there were no bins/overflowing bins, the litter was biodegradable, or that it was very small.

More than 8 in 10 Australians (83%) state that litter is a problem in their own community yet less than 1 in 10 Australians (7%) participated in an organised clean up event in the last year. And while almost 62% of Australians have witnessed someone litter in the last year, we are less likely to point it out.

KAB Chief Executive Officer Peter McLean has launched Keep Australia Beautiful Week with the theme, It’s Everyone’s Backyard, designed to prompt Australians to match their words with actions.

For more information on KAB Week visit -

The Winter Blues [in the media]

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

A recent McCrindle Research study shows that more than a third of all Australians suffer from the Winter Blues. Social analyst Mark McCrindle features on the Daily Edition to show how the chilly weather really affects us and how we can beat the blues.

Aussie's in Winter are:

  • 55% more likely to oversleep
  • 47% tendency to overeat
  • 42% reduced social life
  • 26% increased pessimism

How to beat the Winter blues:

  • Keep social
  • Stay healthy
  • Plan things to look forward to

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