What’s in there for science?
For statistics enthusiasts like me, there is nothing better than a day of releasing census data.
Every five years, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) counts every person and every household in Australia. The process takes years of planning, coordination so people know the date of the census, follow-ups as well as a huge amount of data analysis when the numbers come in.
And today the ABS released the second drop of information – allowing us to get a glimpse of both what Australia looks like in the 2020s, but also a specific glimpse of life under lockdown for many parts of the country.
Here are some of our favorite census statistics, with a scientific tinge:
“Professional, scientific and technical services” ranked fifth in terms of the number of people employed in the industry, with 7.8% of the total workforce. This is only half the number of employees in “Health Care and Social Assistance”, which employs a whopping 14.5%.
This one is a little weird – Aussies don’t age! Well on average. The median age of all Australians has not changed since the last census. If we take the average (median), we are still 38 years old in 2021, as in 2016. Men represent 49.3% of the population with a median age of 37 years and women 50.7% with a median age. 39 years old.
Although we don’t age, we do get smarter. In Australia more than half of us now have some sort of qualification. Over 11 million people in Australia have a vocational or tertiary qualification – a 20% increase since 2016. This means that over half of the population aged 15 and over has a qualification, and if you don’t of certificate diploma, you are part of the minority of Australians.
Read more: Lack of census data is a blow to LGBTIQ+ research
The number of software and IT professionals has increased significantly over the past five years. As the Optus breach shows us, that’s probably not a bad idea. ‘Security science’ is the fastest growing qualification and almost half a million people have some kind of IT qualification.
Unfortunately, there are also jobs that aren’t as popular as they used to be. For example, keyboard operators – there are 41,000 in 2021, compared to 170,000 stenographers and typists 50 years ago. There aren’t many video rental companies left either. Across the country, 160 people are employed in video rental and other media services.
COVID also had some pretty big effects on some data. Of the 12 million employed Australians, more than 21.0% (2,531,262) were working from home on Census Day. This was even more pronounced in the eastern states. It also changed the hours worked. A whopping 6.5% of employed people worked zero hours in the week before the 2021 census, up from 3.5% in 2016 – a pretty huge jump.
Finally, a drink to finish. Employment in the liquor manufacturing industry increased by 240 percent and in beer manufacturing by 50 percent. Although we can’t guess why, I have enjoyed the wide range of Aussie gin and beer in recent years.