Obtaining reliable employment data is traditionally challenging for a variety of reasons. Informal hire practices, contract employment, outsourcing of work and cross industry employment patterns ensure that pinpointing labour and projecting needs are at best difficult. In addition employment data varies considerably from survey to survey due to the limitations of the sampling methodology used.
For these reasons the Australian Bureau of Statistics
(ABS) Population Census data is probably the most reliable indicator, as the Census is completed by almost everybody in the community and is the most comprehensive reporting in terms of employment characteristics such as location and industry or activity of employment.
Data collected under the farm/fishing and food and beverage employment activities can be used to estimate employment in industry sectors. As an example the 2011 census data shows dairy farming employed 1266 people and milk processing a further 859 people. This does not include those employed in confectionery (532 people) or services like transport, marketing, or repairs and maintenance.
As mentioned earlier employment data is subject to significant variation from one survey to another survey.
For these reasons it is very difficult to study trends in say wine or stone fruit production. In addition most farms are diversified. In those instances it is difficult to segregate labour activity for each enterprise e.g. beef, sheep, poppies on a diversified farm.
For these reasons it is best to look at trends in total sector employment which is represented in the chart included in the fact sheet below for the agriculture/ fishing and food and beverage value adding activities. The chart shows employment in both activities has declined over the ten years to 2012.
Data published in the DPIPWE Food and Beverage ScoreCard shows the value of agriculture, food and beverage production has increased despite the trend in the sector to employ fewer people.
As an example in the six years since the first Scorecard was published in 2004-05, the value of agriculture has increased by $174 million despite employment in the sector reducing by 675. This suggests farmers may be becoming more innovative and efficient in their business and labour practices.
Tables 1 and 2 in the attached fact sheet quantify employment in the agriculture, fishing and forestry industries by area of activity activities and region of the state. Table 3 quantifies employment by activities within the food and beverage manufacturing sector.
Employment in Primary Industries and Food Value Adding (171 KB)
Data has been compiled from the Australian Bureau of Statistics
(ABS) Population Census 2011