Census data reveals population quirks

Warren HatelyThe West Australian

The latest census data shows people living in the Augusta-Margaret River shire are more likely to be divorced atheists working part-time compared to WA and national averages.

With strong population growth in the past five years, the shire’s demographics boasted an even male-female split of 14,258 residents, up from more than 12,900 in 2011.

On the religious front, 48 per cent of respondents cited no religion, compared to 29.6 per cent nationwide, with more Anglicans (14.5 per cent) compared to the 13.3 per cent national average, and fewer Catholics (13.5 per cent) against 22.6 per cent.

However, employment data proved the strongest distinction from median averages. Full-time workers numbered about the same as atheists (3495 workers at 48.4 per cent of the population), significantly down on State and national averages of about 57 per cent.

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Lifestyle choices and economic conditions were evident in the region’s high part-time workforce of 2841 residents (39.3 per cent) compared to the lower national average of 30.4 per cent. The breakdown also showed more part-time workers employed for fewer hours than metropolitan counterparts, and twice as many workers (670 residents or 9.7 per cent) worked from home compared to the 4.7 per cent national average.

Statistics for families also reflected known trends in the region, with a higher incidence of couples without children, though the Australian Bureau of Statistics identified 14 per cent single-parent families compared to 14.5 per cent for WA and 15.8 per nationwide — but there were more single fathers (21.4 per cent) compared to the 18.2 per cent national average, with slightly fewer single mothers (78.6 per cent) against the 81.8 per cent Australian average.

The population included 3724 families with an average 1.8 children per household. In working families, dual-income couples were below the national average at 15.2 per cent compared to 21.6 per cent, and slightly more families where one parent worked full time and the other part time (24.9 per cent compared to 21.7 per cent). There were twice as many couples who both worked part-time compared to the 4.1 per cent Australian average.

Of those working, tradies were the most numerous (17.2 per cent compared to 13.5 per cent for the nation), followed by managers (16.9 per cent), professionals (15.9 per cent) and labourers (14.4 per cent).

The wine industry was the biggest employer, followed by accommodation (4.9 per cent), hospitality (3.7 per cent), and primary school teaching (3.6 per cent).

Employment data informed median weekly incomes, with individuals pulling in about $671 a week, on par with the national average but family income ($1524) and households ($1285) were significantly down on Australians’ median income.

Margaret River’s unemployed were fewer, at 4.6 per cent, down from 7.8 for WA’s average and 6.9 per cent Australia-wide.

Absentee landlords also affected property figures, with 29.2 per cent unoccupied homes in the region compared to 11.2 per cent nationwide.

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