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Keywords:

  • regional labour markets;
  • unemployment;
  • employability;
  • space and place;
  • disadvantage

Abstract

It is becoming increasingly apparent that, in order to understand a range of socio-economic outcomes, research needs to be focused on a multi-dimensional approach that accounts for individual characteristics and behaviours together with locality and activity within space and place. Within labour market analysis there is a need to situate empirical analysis within a conceptual framework that considers both the assets of individuals within the labour force and the social and local labour market contexts in which they find themselves. Using a broad notion of employability, this paper develops an analysis of unemployment in Australia's metropolitan labour markets. Specifically it uses a combination of individual survey data and aggregate labour market data to consider the associations between these multi-level factors. It finds that, while individual characteristics are important in understanding unemployment in metropolitan areas, it is equally the case that the strength of spatially distinct labour markets also plays a role. The paper reaches the conclusion that, while contemporary labour market policy tends to focus on individual characteristics, there is a need to widen the policy understanding of labour market outcomes so that other broader contexts, including the impact of space and place, are also seen as being influential.