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6265.0 - Underemployed Workers, Australia, Sep 2008 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/02/2009   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


OVERVIEW

There were 10.7 million employed people aged 15 years and over in September 2008. Of these:

  • 10 million (93%) were fully employed
  • 739,000 (7%) were not fully employed
  • 655,100 (6%) were underemployed workers, of these:
      • 603,700 usually worked part-time but would prefer more hours and were available to start work with more hours either in the reference week, or in the four weeks following the interview
      • 51,300 usually worked full-time but worked part-time hours in the reference week due to economic reasons (being stood down, on short-time, or having insufficient work).


PART-TIME WORKERS WHO WOULD PREFER MORE HOURS

In September 2008, there were 3 million part-time workers (2.1 million women and 861,800 men). There were 687,700 (23%) part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours, consisting of 447,100 women and 240,600 men.

Of the part-time workers who would prefer more hours:
  • 33% were aged 15-24 years
  • 51% would prefer to work full-time (65% of men and 43% of women)
  • 603,700 were available for work with more hours (389,800 women and 213,900 men). Of these, 45% were looking for work with more hours
  • 83,900 were not available for work with more hours. Of these, 11% were looking for work with more hours.


UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS

In September 2008 there were 603,700 underemployed part-time workers. These people comprise the majority (92%) of all underemployed workers.

Of the underemployed part-time workers:
  • 65% were women
  • 20% were aged 35-44 years and a further 19% were aged 15-19 years
  • 21% usually worked 16-20 hours per week and 10% usually worked 1-5 hours per week
  • 60% reported they would not prefer to change employer to work more hours (56% of men and 62% of women), 25% would prefer to change employer while the remaining 15% had no preference.
UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS AS A PROPORTION OF PART-TIME WORKERS, Age by sex
Graph: UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS AS A PROPORTION OF PART-TIME WORKERS, Age by sex


Part-time workers aged 20-24 years had the highest incidence of underemployment, with 26% of part-time workers in this age group underemployed. The proportion of part-time workers who were underemployed generally decreased with age.

While there were more women underemployed part-time workers than men, the incidence of underemployment for part-time workers was higher for men (25%) than women (18%) and this was the case in almost all age groups. The largest percentage point difference was for those aged 45-54 years (37% for men and 17% for women) and 35-44 years (32% for men and 18% for women).

Underemployed part-time men were more likely to report that they would move intrastate if offered a suitable job (25%) than women (21%), whereas 16% of underemployed part-time men and 15% of women reported that they would move interstate if offered a suitable job.

There was a higher proportion of people who reported uncertainty about moving intrastate than interstate if offered a suitable job in September 2008 (13% of underemployed part-time workers might move or did not know if they would move intrastate, compared to 9.2% for interstate).


Duration of current period of insufficient work
UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Duration of current period of insufficient work by age
Graph: UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Duration of current period of insufficient work by age


Older people generally had a longer period of duration of underemployment than younger people. For example, under one fifth (19%) of 15-19 year old underemployed part-time workers had experienced insufficient work for one year or more. In contrast, 50% of those aged 45-54 years, and 53% of those aged 55 years and over had insufficient work for one year or more.

For those aged 15-19 years, the median duration of the current period of insufficient work for underemployed part-time workers was 20 weeks (17 weeks for men and 21 weeks for women). For those aged 25-34 years the median duration was 15 weeks and for those aged 55 years and over the median duration was 52 weeks. Overall, the median duration of the current period of insufficient work for underemployed part-time workers was 26 weeks.


Preferred number of hours
UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Preferred number of total hours by age
Graph: UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Preferred number of total hours by age


Just over half (51%) of underemployed part-time workers would prefer to work a total of 35 hours or more per week. For those aged 20-24 years, 68% preferred a total of 35 hours or more per week, while for those aged 15-19 years, 55% preferred a total of less than 30 hours per week.


Preferred number of extra hours
UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Preferred number of extra hours by usual number of hours worked
Graph: UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Preferred number of extra hours by usual number of hours worked


The number of extra hours preferred by part-time workers varied with the number of hours they usually worked. For example, just over three quarters (76%) of those who usually worked 1-5 hours a week preferred less than 30 extra hours. Of those who worked 16-20 hours a week, 50% preferred less than 10-19 hours a week. Of those who usually worked 20-29 hours a week, 32% preferred 11-16 extra hours a week and of those who worked 30-34 hours a week, 67% preferred to work less than 10 hours a week.

The mean preferred number of extra hours per week for underemployed part-time workers was 13.4 hours. Men preferred to work an average of 14.5 extra hours each week compared with women who preferred to work an average extra 12.8 hours. The mean preferred number of extra hours was lowest for people aged 15-19 years (12.4 hours), and highest for those aged 25-34 years (14.4 hours).


Looking for work with more hours

Of the 603,700 underemployed part-time workers, 271,800 (45%) had looked for work with more hours at some time during the four weeks prior to the survey. Of the 389,800 underemployed part-time women, 43% were looking for work with more hours. By comparison, of the 213,900 underemployed part-time men, 49% were looking for work with more hours.

The most common step taken by underemployed part-time workers who had looked for work with more hours, was 'asked current employer for more work' (61%). This was followed by 'contacted prospective employers' (57%) and 'looked in newspapers' (52%). The largest percentage point differences between men and women were for 'contacted friends or relatives' (37% of men and 26% of women) and 'checked centrelink touchscreens' (12% of men and 6.4% of women).

The main difficulty in finding work most commonly reported by underemployed part-time workers who had looked for work with more hours, was 'no vacancies in line of work' (17%). This was followed by 'other difficulties' (15%), and 'unsuitable hours' and 'lacked necessary skills or education' (both 10%). The largest percentage point difference between men and women was for 'unsuitable hours' (6% of men and 13% of women).

Approximately 10% of underemployed part-time workers who had looked for work with more hours reported that they had 'no difficulties' in finding work with more hours.


UNDEREMPLOYED FULL-TIME WORKERS

There were 7.7 million full-time workers in September 2008, accounting for 72% of all employed people. Approximately 1.1 million people (14%) worked less than 35 hours in the reference week. Less than 5 per cent (51,300) of these worked less than 35 hours in the reference week due to economic reasons, of which 80% were men.


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