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6239.0 - Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation, Australia, Jul 2008 to Jun 2009 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/12/2009   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


OVERVIEW

The 2008-09 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS) revealed that of the 16.1 million people aged 18 years and over, there were 6.3 million people who were not employed or who worked less than 16 hours. This group comprised people not in the labour force (5 million), the unemployed (412,700 people) and people working less than 16 hours (909,300 people).

Of those 6.3 million people, approximately 1.7 million (or 27%) indicated that they would like a job or to work more hours. This group comprised:

  • 1,059,800 (or 62%) people who wanted a paid job but were not in the labour force;
  • 412,700 (or 24%) people who were unemployed; and
  • 245,800 (or 14%) people who usually worked less than 16 hours per week but wanted to work more.

The remaining 4.6 million people (or 73%) did not want a job or did not want to work more hours, or were undecided.


PEOPLE WHO WANTED A JOB OR MORE HOURS

There were 1.7 million people who wanted a job or preferred more hours. Determining whether these people are available to work is important because those who are available have a greater potential to participate or increase their participation in the labour force than those who are not available.

Of the 1.7 million people who wanted a job or preferred more hours:
  • 1.4 million people were available to start work within four weeks. Of these:
      • 793,500 people were not looking for work or more hours; and
      • 566,600 people were looking for work or more hours.
  • 358,100 people were not available to start work or work more hours within four weeks.

Women represented nearly two thirds (64%) of those who wanted a job or preferred more hours. This reflects the fact that more women are underemployed or not in the labour force than men.


Available but not looking for a job or work with more hours

Of the 1.4 million people who wanted a job or more hours and were available to start work within four weeks, an estimated 793,500 people (58%) indicated that they were not looking for a job or more hours. Most of this group were women (524,500 or 66%) and most were not in the labour force (687,600 or 87%).

'Caring for children' was the most commonly reported main reason for not looking for work or more hours (143,600 people). Women comprised the majority of this group (89% or 127,800) and 67% of women who gave that response were in the 30-54 year age group. For those people who cited 'caring for children' as their main reason for not looking for work or more hours, 77,200 people (54%) reported they 'preferred to look after children' as the main reason for this, while 22,700 people (16%) reported 'cost/too expensive'.

Another commonly reported main reason for not looking for work or more hours was 'studying/returning to studies' (106,500 people). Most people who reported this (76% or 80,600) were aged between 18 and 29 years, with 41% in this age group citing it as their main reason.

PERSONS AVAILABLE BUT NOT LOOKING FOR A JOB OR WORK WITH MORE HOURS, Selected main reason for not looking for work/more hours
Graph: Persons available but not looking for a job or work with more hours, Selected main reason for not looking for workmore hours



Available and looking for a job or work with more hours

There were 566,600 people who wanted a job or more hours, were available, and were looking for work or more hours, of whom:
  • Over half (57%) were women;
  • 412,700 were unemployed (73%);
  • 112,800 usually worked less than 16 hours (20%); and
  • 41,000 were not in the labour force (7%) (these people are defined as not in the labour force rather than unemployed because they were not available to start work in the reference week, but were available to start within four weeks).

Overall, the main difficulty in finding a job reported by people who were available and looking for a job or work with more hours was 'lacks necessary training/qualifications/experience' (108,000 people or 19%). Over half of those who reported this (53%) were women. 'No jobs with suitable conditions/arrangements' was another commonly reported difficulty (79,100 people or 14%), and 69% of those reporting this were women.

PERSONS AVAILABLE AND LOOKING FOR A JOB OR WORK WITH MORE HOURS, Selected main difficulty finding work/more hours
Graph: Persons available and looking for a job or work with more hours, Selected main difficulty finding workmore hours



Not available to start a job or work with more hours

There were 358,100 people who wanted a job or more hours but who were not available to do so. Most of these (92%) were not in the labour force, while the remaining 8% comprised people who worked less than 16 hours. About two-thirds (238,900 or 67%) of those who wanted work or more hours but were not available were women.

The reasons given by people for their unavailability varied by age, reflecting the fact that the reasons tend to change across the stages of the life cycle. The most common main reasons given by young people (those aged 18-29 years) for their unavailability was 'studying/returning to studies' (31%). For those aged 30-54 years who wanted to work (more) but were unavailable, 40% cited 'home duties' as their main reason while a further 26% reported 'long-term sickness or injury' as their main reason. There has been a shift in reporting 'home duties' instead of 'caring for children' as a reason for not being available to work (more hours). For older people (aged 55 years and over) 'long-term sickness/injury' was their most commonly reported main reason (49%).

PERSONS WHO WANTED A JOB OR WORK WITH MORE HOURS, BUT WERE NOT AVAILABLE(a), Age by selected main reason not available to start work/more hours
Graph: Persons who wanted a job or work with more hours, but were not available, Age by selected main reason not available to start workmore hours


Men and women had different reasons for not being available to start work or more hours within four weeks. About 46% of the 238,900 women who wanted to work (more) but were unavailable reported that 'home duties' was their main reason for their unavailability. Almost one-third (99,400) of women not available to start work reported that their youngest child was aged four years or less. Another commonly reported main reasons given by women for not being available was 'long-term sickness or disability' (21% or 49,800). Over one-third of women who were not available to start work or more hours within four weeks reported that they would be available to start work or more hours within 6 months.

Of the 119,200 men who wanted a job or more hours but were not available, almost half reported that their main reason for unavailability was 'long-term sickness or disability' (48% or 57,700). Of the men not available to start work, 31% reported that they would be available to start work or more hours within 6 months. Other commonly reported main reasons given by men for not being available to start work or more hours within four weeks were 'studying/returning to studies' (17,800) and 'short-term sickness or injury' (12,300).

PERSONS WHO WANTED A JOB OR WORK WITH MORE HOURS, BUT WERE NOT AVAILABLE(a), Selected main reason not available to start work/more hours
Graph: Persons who wanted a job or work with more hours, but were not available, Selected main reason not available to start workmore hours



Preferred weekly hours

Information about their preferred number of hours of work was collected from people not in the labour force who wanted a job and from people who usually worked less than 16 hours and wanted to work more.

Of the 1.1 million people not in the labour force who wanted a job, 72% reported that they would prefer to work part-time hours (60% of men and 79% of women). The average preferred number of hours was 22 (26 hours for men and 20 hours for women).

Similarly, for those who worked few hours, there were distinct differences in the hours preferences of men and women. Males preferred an average of 30 hours per week, whereas females preferred an average of 26 hours.


PEOPLE WHO DID NOT WANT (MORE) WORK

Seventy-three percent (or 4.6 million) of those who were not employed or who worked less than 16 hours indicated that they did not want (more) work. This comprised:
  • 3.9 million people (2,478,400 women and 1,468,700 men) who were not in the labour force; and
  • 663,600 people (486,000 women and 177,600 men) who usually worked less than 16 hours.

The age structure of those who were not in the labour force and didn't want to work was quite different from those who worked less than 16 hours and didn't want more work. These different age structures reveal why the most common main reasons for not wanting (more) work are different between the two groups.

People who were not in the labour force and didn't want to work were older - just under three-quarters of them (74%) were aged 55 years and over. Women aged 55 years and over formed the largest single group, representing 44% of those who were not in the labour force and did not want to work, while men of that age represented 31%. Men in the younger age groups represented only a very small proportion of those not in the labour force who didn't want to work - men aged 18-54 years formed just 7% of this group. In contrast, women aged 18-54 years formed 18%.

PERSONS NOT IN THE LABOUR FORCE WHO DID NOT WANT TO WORK, Age and sex distribution
Graph: Persons not in the labour force who did not want to work, Age and sex distribution


Of the 3.9 million people not in the labour force who did not want to work, the most commonly reported main reason for not wanting a job was 'permanently retired/will not work full time again' (31% or 1.2 million), followed by 'no need/satisfied with current arrangements/retired from full-time work (for now) (22% or 851,200), and 'long-term sickness or disability' (22% or 836,600).

'Long-term sickness or disability' was reported by 29% of men (or 427,900), with the highest proportion of these (76%) aged 55 years and over. Thirteen percent of women (or 331,500) indicated the main reason that they did not want to work was due to 'caring for children'. Most of these women (64%) were aged 30-54 years.

PERSONS NOT IN THE LABOUR FORCE WHO DID NOT WANT TO WORK, Selected main reason for not wanting work
Graph: Persons not in the labour force who did not want to work, Selected main reason for not wanting work


Men and women who usually worked less than 16 hours and didn't want more hours were relatively young - 56% of them were aged between 18 and 44 years. Women made up more than three-quarters of those (73%) who worked less than 16 hours and who didn't want more work. Women aged 55 years and over formed the largest group (18%) of those working less than 16 hours and not wanting more work, closely followed by women aged 35-44 years (17%). Men aged 55 years and over formed the largest group (11%) of men who worked less than 16 hours and did not want more work.

PERSONS WHO USUALLY WORKED LESS THAN 16 HOURS(a) AND DID NOT WANT TO WORK MORE, Age and sex distribution
Graph: Persons who usually wored less than 16 hours and did not want to work more,  Age and sex distribution


The most commonly reported main reason that women gave for not wanting more hours was 'caring for children' (31% or 148,700 women gave this response). Half of women aged 30-54 years not wanting more hours (or 122,000) reported this as the main reason. This indicates that part-time work is particularly important for women who are raising children. More than one-quarter of women working less than 16 hours and who did not want to work more indicated that their main reason was 'no need/satisfied with current arrangements/retired from full-time work (for now)'. Half (49%) of these women were aged 55 years and over.

There were 177,600 men who usually worked less than 16 hours and didn't want more hours. The most commonly reported main reason given by 37% of those men for not wanting more hours was 'studying/returning to studies' (almost all of this group aged 18-29 years), followed by 'no need/satisfied with current arrangements/retired from full-time work (for now)' (34% or 59,800) (with 78% of this group aged 55 years and over).

PERSONS WHO USUALLY WORKED LESS THAN 16 HOURS(a) AND DID NOT WANT TO WORK MORE, Selected main reason for not wanting more hours
Graph: Persons who usually worked less than 16 hours and did not want to work more, Selected main reason for not wanting more hours



INCENTIVES TO JOIN/INCREASE PARTICIPATION IN THE LABOUR FORCE

People aged 18-69 years who were:
  • not in the labour force, excluding those permanently unable to work; or
  • usually worked less than 16 hours and did not prefer to work more hours, were not available to work more hours or were not looking for work with more hours;

were asked about a range of incentives that would encourage them to join or increase their participation in the labour force. Results are presented for those who worked in the last 20 years (3 million persons), with the incentives grouped into the following categories: work related, finance related, child-care related, other caring related and other.

The most important work related incentive to join or increase participation in the labour force for both men and women was 'ability to work part time hours', with 51% of women and 28% of men reporting this as 'very important'. The next most important work related incentive for women to join or increase participation in the labour force was 'work set hours on set days' (41%). For those women with 'caring for children' responsibilities, the most important childcare related incentive was 'financial assistance with childcare' with 55% of these women reporting this as 'very important'. Overall, 'financial assistance with childcare' was the most important incentive reported by women, followed closely by 'access to child care places' (53%).

The most important financial incentive to join or increase participation in the labour force was the ability to 'keep more of pay', with 37% of people reporting that this was 'very important' (30% of men and 41% of women). For those that reported 'caring for ill/ disabled/ elderly person' as the main reason not wanting work or more hours, men reported 'access to in-home respite care' as the most important caring related incentive, with 34% reporting this as 'very important'. Women in this group reported the most important caring related reason was 'access to residential or aged care', with 43% reporting this as 'very important'. The most important other incentive to join or increase labour force participation was 'less paperwork from government', with 28% of people (24% of men and 30% of women) reporting this as 'very important'.

Of the 2.4 million people who nominated an incentive that was 'very important' or 'somewhat important' to them, nearly a quarter (564,000) said they would definitely return to work if they were offered a job with those conditions.


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