Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/06/2001   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Work >> Paid Work: Trends in employment population ratios

Paid Work: Trends in employment population ratios

Between 1980 and 2000, men's employment rates decreased from 82% to 77%, while women's employment rates increased from 47% to 61%.

In 1980, there were 6.1 million employed people in Australia. By 2000, largely due to population growth, this had increased by 46% to 8.9 million people. Over this period the employment population ratio (or employment rate) for those aged 15-64 years underwent only modest change, recording a small increase from 65% to 69%.

Movements in the employment population ratio reflect changes in the number of employed people relative to changes in population size. Being employed affects income, living standards and welfare dependency, and through them, social and economic wellbeing, for both individuals and their family members. Further, the employed population indirectly supports those who are not employed through its income tax payments.


Data on employment
The ABS has collected data on employment in its Labour Force Survey since 1966. The survey provides estimates of the labour force status and demographic characteristics of the Australian population. Further information is available in Labour Force, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6203.0).

Employed persons are persons aged 15 years and over who, during the reference week, worked for one hour or more for pay, profit, commission, payment in kind in a job or business or on a farm, or worked without pay in a family business, or who had a job but were not at work. Also includes employers, own account workers or contributing family workers who had a job, business or farm, but were not at work.

The employment population ratio for any group is the number of employed persons expressed as a percentage of the civilian population aged 15 years and over in the same group (also known as an employment rate).

Full-time workers are employed persons who usually worked 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs) and others who, although usually working less than 35 hours a week, worked 35 hours or more during the reference week.

Part-time workers are employed persons who usually work less than 35 hours a week and who did so during the survey reference week.

Permanent workers are defined in this article as those who are entitled to either paid holiday leave or sick leave or both.

Casual workers are defined in this article as those who are not entitled to either paid holiday leave or sick leave.


Between 1980 and 2000, trends in the employment rate for people aged 15-64 years, including those of youth, women, families and older workers reflected underlying changes in society. For example, changes in the traditional roles of full-time employment for the male partner, and child care and household responsibilities for the female partner, began around the 1960s and gained momentum over the 1980s and 1990s. These were associated with a shift away from a male-dominated workforce to one where women were participating to a greater extent, leading to converging employment rates for men and women.

EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS FOR PERSONS AGED 15-64 YEARS

Source: ABS Labour Force Surveys, July 1979 to June 2000.


The period between 1980 and 2000 was also characterised by major changes to industry and workforce structure. Employment growth was concentrated in the service sector and a rise in the number of part-time and casual jobs was offset by a corresponding fall in the number of more traditional permanent full-time jobs (see Australian Social Trends 2000, Employment arrangements in the late 1990s).

In keeping with these trends, various employment population ratios for people aged 15-64 years changed over this period. Part-time employment rates increased from 11% in 1980 to 17% in 2000, while casual employment rates increased from 13% in 1990 (the first year data were available) to 16% in 2000. Between 1980 and 2000, the permanent full-time employment rate fell from 56% to 52%. However, despite these changes, almost three quarters of all employed people were in permanent full-time positions in 2000.

SELECTED EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS

Proportion of persons aged 15-64 years

Permanent full-time (a)
Part-time(b)
Casual(c)
Total(d)
Year
%
%
%
%

1980
56
11
n.a.
65
1985
53
12
n.a.
63
1990
55
15
13
69
1995
51
17
16
67
2000
52
17
16
69

(a) Excludes self-employed people.
(b) Comprises permanent part-time and casual part-time workers, excluding self-employed people.
(c) Comprises full-time casual and part-time casual workers, excluding self-employed people.
(d) Includes self-employed people. A worker can be both casual and part-time and therefore components do not add to total.

Source: Working Arrangements, Australia, 1997 (ABS cat. no. 6342.0); ABS Labour Force Surveys, July 1979 to June 2000.


Men's and women's employment
Both men's and women's employment rates reflect the changes outlined above. While the rate for men decreased between 1980 and 2000 (from 82% to 77%), the rate for women increased (from 47% to 61%).

Over the period, the proportion of men who were employed was affected by the restructuring of industry and the resulting decline in permanent full-time positions. Even so, the pattern of male employment indicates that most men (62%) commence employment in full-time jobs during their early 20s and remain employed until they retire. Men's employment rates are lowest towards the beginning and end of their working lives - around the ages of 15-19 years and 60-65 years, reflecting participation in education and early retirement, respectively. Between 1980 and 2000, men's employment rates declined slightly across all ages, with the biggest fall in the 55-59 year age group where the rate declined from 81% to 70%.

Between 1980 and 2000, women's employment rates rose substantially across all age groups. The exception was in the 15-19 year age group, where the employment rates of young men and women converged (46% and 50% respectively). The similarity of employment rates in this age group reflects the fact that many young people were in full-time education and not in the workforce.

Changes in employment rates for women occurred alongside changing patterns of family formation, such as the delay in childbearing and reductions in family size (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Older mothers). The lower employment rates for women aged 25-34 years in 1980 compared with 2000, reflected the fact that women were more likely to take a break from paid employment to raise their family. The increase in part-time and casual employment, as well as the reduction in family size and expansion of child care services (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Child care arrangements) led to a decline not only in the number of women taking time out of the workforce but also the length of time they were out of the workforce (see Australian Social Trends 1998, Trends in women's employment). Consequently, the employment rate for women in the main childbearing years of 25-34 years increased, from 50% to 66% between 1980 and 2000.

Between 1908 and 2000, relatively low proportions of women aged 55 years and over were employed compared with women in younger age groups. That said, the increasing propensity for women to enter and stay in the workforce was evident even among older age groups, as shown by the increased employment rate for those aged 45-54 years (from 46% in 1980 to 68% in 2000) and 55-64 years (21% to 34%).


MALE EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS
FEMALE EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS
Source: ABS Labour Force Surveys, July 1979 to June 2000Source: ABS Labour Force Surveys, July 1979 to June 2000.


Young people
Between 1980 and 2000, the employment population ratio for young people aged 15-24 years remained steady, at around 62%. However, over this time, increasing levels of participation in secondary and tertiary education led to a change in the nature of their employment. Whereas in 1980, many young people moved from school into a full-time job, by 2000 young people were taking on employment in conjunction with full or part-time study. As a result, the full-time employment rate for young people decreased from 53% to 35% over the period. The fall was much greater for 15-19 year olds (40% to 17%) than for 20-24 year olds (65% to 53%).

The increase in part-time and casual employment provided greater opportunities for young people to combine full-time study with work, for some even while still at school (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Combining study and work). This is reflected in the high proportion of young people who were employed in part-time positions in 2000 (64% of 15-19 year olds and 26% of 20-24 year olds).

Young men aged 15-24 years in 1980, had a higher employment rate than young women (68% compared with 56%), but by 2000 the employment rates for young men and women had converged at 61%. Many young people are still living in the family home at this age and have not yet partnered or had children (see Australian Social Trends 2000, Young adults living in the parental home). It is not until after age 25 years, that men's and women's employment rates begin to diverge as the presence of children impacts on their employment arrangements.

FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS OF PERSONS AGED 15-24 YEARS

Source: ABS Labour Force Surveys, July 1979 to June 2000.


Families with children
The most common employment arrangement in families is for both parents to be working. In 2000, 63% of couple families with dependent children had both partners employed. However, in 37% of couple families with dependent children, the father was employed and the mother was not in the labour force. Most men were working full-time and their employment rate was less affected by the presence of children than women's, indicating that for most families, men were still the primary financial provider.

In 2000, women with an employed partner and dependent children were generally less likely to be working than their counterparts without dependent children (63% compared with 76%). However, the likelihood that women with employed partners and dependent children would be working increased with age, reflecting the growing independence of children as they get older. While only 33% of young women with dependent children and employed partners were working, the proportion increased to 73% for women aged 45-64 years in this family situation.

These patterns contrasted markedly with those of women in couple families with an employed partner but without dependent children. These women were more likely to be working and were more likely to be working full-time, particularly those aged 15-44 years, who had full-time employment rates of 65% for the 15-24 years age group and 71% for the 25-44 years age group.

For lone parents, opportunities to enter the workforce are often constrained by child care responsibilities, particularly for those with children who are not yet at school. In 2000, 51% of lone parents were employed. As the age of their youngest child increased, both lone mothers and partnered mothers were more likely to be employed and differences in the employment rates of the two groups decreased.

EMPLOYMENT RATIOS OF FEMALES WITH EMPLOYED PARTNERS, 2000

Female's age group (years)

15-24
25-44
45-64
Total
%
%
%
%

No dependent children present
    Full-time
65
71
36
50
    Part-time
19
18
31
26
    Total
83
89
67
76
Dependent children present
    Full-time
9
25
37
27
    Part-time
24
37
36
36
    Total
33
62
73
63

Source: Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Families, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6224.0); ABS Labour Force Surveys, July 1999 to June 2000.


Older people
Employment population ratios for people aged 55-64 years mirror the trend in the total employment population ratio, but at a lower level. Similar to the trends for men and women aged 15-64 years, men aged 55-64 years in 2000 were less likely to be working than previously (59% compared with 67% in 1980), while women were more likely to be working (36% compared with 21%). Within this age group, most of the change occurred among people aged 55-59 years, with the employment rate for men decreasing from 81% to 70% between 1980 and 2000 and that for women increasing from 28% to 46%.

Among 55-64 year olds, as for younger age groups, part-time work has become more common. The 20 years to 2000 have seen the proportion of people in this age group who were employed on a part-time basis increase from 6% of total employment to 28%. This increase in part-time employment suggests a greater propensity to engage in part-time work as a transition to retirement either through choice or because of changing labour market conditions. (see Australian Social Trends 2000, Retirement and retirement intentions).

EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS OF PERSONS AGED 55-64 YEARS

1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
Age (years)
%
%
%
%
%

55-59Males
81
71
72
67
70
Females
28
26
33
39
46
Persons
55
49
53
53
58
60-64Males
48
39
46
42
44
Females
13
11
16
15
22
Persons
30
25
31
29
33
Total 55-64Males
67
56
59
55
59
Females
21
19
24
28
35
Persons
43
37
42
42
47

Source: ABS Labour Force Surveys, July 1979 to June 2000.


Geography and employment
Employment population ratios vary between States and Territories and between capital cities and regional areas. In 2000, the highest employment rate for 15-64 year olds was in the Australian Capital Territory (76%) and the lowest was in Tasmania (64%).

In New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, the employment rates tended to be higher in the capital cities, which could be due to greater employment opportunities. In contrast, in Western Australia and Tasmania employment rates were slightly higher outside the capital cities. These differences can be attributed to many things, including the varying age structures of each State's population.

REGIONAL EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS, 2000

Capital city
Rest of State
Total
State
%
%
%

New South Wales
71
65
69
Victoria
69
66
69
Queensland
70
68
69
South Australia
67
67
67
Western Australia
71
73
71
Tasmania
63
64
64
Northern Territory
n.a.
n.a.
69
Australian Capital Territory
n.a.
n.a.
76
Australia
70
67
69

Source: ABS Labour Force Surveys, July 1999 to June 2000.

Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.