Aboriginal labour force characteristics

Here, analysis is provided on employment of the Northern Territory's (NT) Aboriginal working age population in comparison to the non-Aboriginal working age population. This includes the results and changes of employment, unemployment and participation rates between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses. The NT's position and performance is compared across the jurisdictions and Australia. The NT Government has adopted the term Aboriginal instead of Indigenous, as Aboriginal includes Torres Strait Islanders as well.

Key facts | Working age population | Employment | Unemployment | Labour force participation | Explanatory notes

The following sections explore Aboriginal labour force characteristics based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2011 and 2016 censuses, which is count data at a particular point in time. Therefore, statistics are not comparable to the main Labour Market page, which are based on resident population estimates. The NT Government has adopted the term Aboriginal instead of Indigenous, and Aboriginal includes Torres Strait Islanders.

Although the NT’s Aboriginal working age population grew at a significant rate from the 2011 Census, the NT recorded the lowest growth of all the jurisdictions, leading to a decline in our national share of the Aboriginal working age population. This trend also occurred in other jurisdictions that had a historically high Aboriginal population, such as South Australia and Western Australia, due to greater Aboriginal population growth in other jurisdictions, particularly along the East Coast. A key contributor to the higher rate of growth and share of the national population in other jurisdictions relates to people newly identifying as Aboriginals as well as children born to parents of mixed heritage, with one parent identifying as Aboriginal. Both factors tend to be more prevalent in Australia’s metropolitan centres. If current trends continue the NT’s share of the national Aboriginal working age population will fall further, having implications for future government policy and funding arrangements.

In October 2018, ABS released a paper (Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counts, 2016, ABS Cat. No. 2077.0) further examining the increase in Aboriginal population counts between the 2011 Census and 2016 Census, and provides additional information about the drivers of Aboriginal population change across the states, territories and remote regions.

Key facts

Working age population


Employment by status

Employment by industry


Unemployed by status

Labour Force Participation

Explanatory notes