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6265.0 - Underemployed Workers, Australia, Sep 2009 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/02/2010   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


OVERVIEW

There were 10.9 million employed people aged 15 years and over in September 2009. Of these:

  • 10 million (92%) were fully employed
  • 899,500 (8%) were not fully employed of whom 811,600 were underemployed.

Of the 811,600 underemployed workers:
  • 735,900 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
  • 75,700 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 2009, there were 3.2 million part-time workers (2.2 million women and 938,300 men). Of all part-time workers, 26% (823,800) would prefer to work more hours, compared to 23% in September 2008.

Of the 823,800 part-time workers who would prefer more hours:
  • 32% were aged 15-24 years
  • 54% would prefer to work full-time, compared with 51% in September 2008
  • 735,900 were available for work with more hours (452,100 women and 283,800 men), of whom 49% were looking for work with more hours
  • 87,900 were not available for work with more hours, of whom 13% were looking for work with more hours.


UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS

In September 2009, there were 735,900 underemployed part-time workers. These people comprise 91% of all underemployed workers.

Of the underemployed part-time workers:
  • 61% were women
  • 20% were aged 35-44 years and a further 18% were aged 25-34 years
  • 61% reported they would not prefer to change employer to work more hours, 24% would prefer to change employer while the remaining 16% 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 and 25-34 years had the highest incidence of underemployment, with 29% of part-time workers in both of these age groups underemployed. The proportion of part-time workers who were underemployed generally decreased with age.

While there were more underemployed part-time women than men (452,100 compared with 283,800), the incidence of underemployment for part-time workers was higher for men (30%) than women (20%). This was the case in all age groups except for those aged 15-19 and 20-24 years. The largest percentage point difference was for those aged 35-44 years (44% for men and 18% for women) and 45-54 years (40% 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 (32%) than women (21%), whereas 23% of underemployed part-time men and 14% 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 2009 (12% of underemployed part-time workers might move or did not know if they would move intrastate, compared with 10% 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 duration of underemployment than younger people. For example, just over one fifth (21%) of 15-19 year old underemployed part-time workers had experienced insufficient work for one year or more. In contrast, 48% of those aged 45-54 years, and 45% of those aged 55 years and over had insufficient work for one year or more.

For those aged 45-54 years, the median duration of the current period of insufficient work was 39 weeks (34 weeks for men and 52 weeks for women) and for those aged 50 and over the median duration was 34 weeks. Overall, the median duration of the current period of insufficient work for underemployed part-time workers was 26 weeks.

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


Over half (55%) of underemployed part-time workers would prefer to work a total of 35 hours or more per week. For those aged 20-24 years, 66% preferred to work a total of 35 hours or more per week, while for those aged 15-19 years, 48% preferred to work 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


For underemployed part-time workers, the preferred number of extra hours varied with the number of hours they usually worked. For example, over half (57%) of those who usually worked 1-5 hours a week preferred 10 or more extra hours per week, whereas of those who worked 30-34 hours a week, 60% preferred to work less than 10 extra hours per week.

MEAN PREFERRED NUMBER OF EXTRA HOURS, By age
Graph: MEAN PREFERRED NUMBER OF EXTRA HOURS, By age


The mean preferred number of extra hours per week for underemployed part-time workers was 14.1 hours, compared with 13.4 hours in September 2008. The mean preferred number of extra hours was lowest for people aged 15-19 years (12.3 hours), and highest for those aged 20-24 years (16.2 hours). On average, men preferred to work an extra 15.7 hours per week compared with women who preferred to work an extra 13.1 hours per week.


Looking for work with more hours

Of the 735,900 underemployed part-time workers, around half (358,900) had looked for work with more hours at some time during the four weeks prior to the survey. Of the 452,100 underemployed part-time women, 45% were looking for work with more hours. By comparison, of the 283,800 underemployed part-time men, 57% were looking for work with more hours.

The most common step taken to find work with more hours by underemployed part-time workers was 'asked current employer for more work' (60%), followed by 'contacted prospective employers' (55%), 'searched Internet sites' and 'looked in newspapers' (both 50%).

The main difficulty in finding work with more hours most commonly reported by underemployed part-time workers was 'no vacancies in line of work' (21%), followed by 'no vacancies at all' (16%). The largest percentage point difference between men and women was for 'unsuitable hours' (5% of men and 9% of women).

Approximately 7% 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, a decrease from 10% in 2008.


UNDEREMPLOYED FULL-TIME WORKERS

There were 7.7 million full-time workers in September 2009, accounting for 71% of all employed people. Of those who usually worked full-time, 1.1 million people (14%) worked less than 35 hours in the reference week, with 75,700 (7%) of these people working less hours due to economic reasons.


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