Concepts and Definitions

When studying labour market indicators, we are often interested in how they compare with past periods, say relative to a year ago or ten years ago.

Absolute change refers to the simple difference in the indicator over two periods in time, i.e.


Relative change expresses the absolute change as a percentage of the value of the indicator in the earlier period, i.e.


The concepts of absolute and relative change also apply to indicators measured in percentage terms, for example unemployment rate.  For such indicators,
imas

Absolute change also refers to the change in the indicator in percentage points, i.e. value of the indicator in period 2 minus that in period 1.

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Relative change also refers to the change in the indicator in percentage terms, i.e. absolute change as a percentage of the value of the indicator in period 1.

 
 
 
Example 1
 
9,800 workers were made redundant (i.e. retrenched or prematurely released from their contracts) in 2010, compared with 23,430 in 2009.
 
 
 

 
 
 
Example 2
 
Total employment rose by 115,900 in 2010 from the level of 2,990,000 in December 2009.
 
Here, the total employment change of 115,900 is the absolute change in total employment in 2010.
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
Example 3
 
The annual average resident unemployment rate was 4.3% in 2009 and 3.1% in 2010.