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Full-time and part-time employment
Employed people are regarded as either full-time or part-time workers depending on the number of hours worked. Full-time workers are those who:
Part-time workers are those who usually work less than 35 hours a week and either did so during the reference week, or were not at work during the reference week.
Graph 6.10 shows annual percentage changes in part-time and full-time employment since 1985-86. For most of this period, part-time employment increased at a greater rate than full-time employment. As a result, the proportion of people employed part-time rose from 18% in 1985-86 to 29% in 2005-06. Full-time employment grew at a faster rate than part-time employment between 2002-03 and 2003-04, the first time this had happened since the commencement of the monthly LFS in 1978. However, the past year has seen a return to the previous trend, with part-time employment growing at a rate of 2.9% in 2005-06 compared with full-time employment which increased by 2.0%.
Following a period of strong economic growth in the late-1980s, and the subsequent economic downturn of the early-1990s, employment growth fluctuated considerably. In 1988-89 growth in full-time employment peaked at 3.6%. Part-time employment grew strongly in 1986-87 (8.4%) and 1989-90 (8.2%). Subsequently the rate of growth of full-time and part-time employment began to slow. At the onset of the economic downturn in 1990-91, full-time employment fell by 1.6%. The impact of the downturn and its effects on the demand for labour intensified in 1991-92 when full-time employment fell more strongly (down 3.4%). At the same time, the rate of growth of part-time employment increased slightly from 3.2% in 1990-91 to 3.8% in 1991-92. A similar pattern was evident in 2001-02, when a decrease in full-time employment was accompanied by growth in part-time employment.
In 2005-06 there were 10.1 million employed people, with 71% working full time (table 6.11). Men were far more likely than women to work full time (85% and 54% respectively). Part-time work was most prevalent among the younger (aged 15-19 years) and older (65 years and over) age groups (66% and 54% respectively). For women, at least a third of each age group worked part time, with the 20-24 years and 25-34 years age groups having the lowest proportion of part-time workers (38% and 34% respectively).
Employment by industry and occupation
The distribution of employed people across industries and occupations, and the changes over time, provide an important insight into the structure of the labour market. Graph 6.12 shows the proportion of employed people, by industry, for the years 1990-91 and 2005-06.
Since 1990-91 the industry composition of the labour market has changed considerably. Historically, the Manufacturing industry has been the largest employing industry, but its contribution to the number of employed people has been declining. As recently as 1990-91, the Manufacturing industry was the largest employer. However, in 2005-06, it was third after the Retail trade and Property and business services industries, which had 15% and 12% of employed people respectively. Manufacturing employment fell from 15% of all employed people in 1990-91 to 11% in 2005-06. The proportion of people employed in the Wholesale trade industry also fell over this period, from 7% to 4%.
Over the period 1990-91 to 2005-06, service-based industries increased their share of employed people to the point where the two largest industries were service industries. The increase was greatest in the Property and business services industry (from 8% to 12%) while Construction rose from 7% to 9%, Health and community services rose from 9% to 10%, and Retail trade from 14% to 15%.
Table 6.13 shows the proportion of employed people in each broad occupation category by age group, for 2005-06. The most common occupation group was Professionals (19%), followed by Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers (17%). Advanced clerical and service workers was the least prevalent occupation group (4%).
There is a correlation between age and occupation, with a higher proportion of younger workers employed in the lower-skilled occupations, and a higher proportion of older workers employed in the more highly-skilled occupations. For example, less than 1% of workers in the 15-19 year age group and less than 2% of the 20-24 year age group were mainly engaged as Managers and administrators, while at the other end of the age spectrum, in the age group 65 years and over, 24% were employed in this occupation group. In the 15-19 year age group, 40% of employed people were engaged as Elementary clerical, sales and service workers, and a further 16% as Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers. The proportion of 20-24 year olds employed as Elementary clerical, sales and service workers (16%) was considerably lower than the proportion of 15-19 year olds employed in this occupation group. In contrast, there was a much higher proportion of 20-24 year olds than 15-19 year olds employed as Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers (23%).
There are large gender differences in occupations. Women workers are more likely to be mainly engaged in clerical occupations groups, such as Advanced clerical and service workers; Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers; and Elementary clerical, sales and service workers. Men are more likely to be employed in the trade occupations, including Tradespersons and related workers, and Intermediate production and transport workers (graph 6.14). For example, 21% of men were employed as Tradespersons and related workers compared with 3% of women, while 26% of women were employed as Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers compared with 8% of men. In the more highly-skilled occupations a higher proportion of men were employed as Managers and administrators (11% compared with 5% of women), while a higher proportion of women were employed as Professionals (22% compared with 17% of men).
Characteristics of employment
Working life in Australia continues to change. There are more diverse employment arrangements, more flexible working-time patterns, and more people working part-time hours. This section looks at the types of arrangements people are employed under, and the hours they work.
The ABS has developed a time series on the types of employment that people have, including employees (excluding owner managers of incorporated enterprises) who are not entitled to paid sick or holiday leave ('casual' employees) and people who operate their own business. The series was derived by combining data from the LFS and the annual Survey of Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, conducted by the ABS. Employed people were classified to one of five employment types on the basis of their main job, that is, the job in which they usually worked the most hours. The employment types are: employees with paid leave entitlements; employees without paid leave entitlements; owner managers of incorporated enterprises; owner managers of unincorporated enterprises; and contributing family workers (for more detail see the article 'Changes in types of employment', Australian Labour Market Statistics, Oct 2004, (6105.0).
Of the 10 million employed people at August 2005, over half (60%) were employees with paid leave entitlements (table 6.15). Other large groups were employees without paid leave entitlements (20%) and owner managers of unincorporated enterprises (13%).
Although the proportion of employed people who worked as employees with paid leave entitlements was the same for men and women (60%), more women were employees without paid leave entitlements (25%) than men (15%). The proportion of men working in their own business was higher than for women (25% compared with 14%).
Employees without paid leave entitlements rose as a proportion of total employment, from 17% in 1993 to 20% in 1998. Since 1998 the proportion has remained relatively stable. Although owner managers as a proportion of the total employed remained stable between 1993 and 2005, the division between incorporated and unincorporated enterprises has changed. Owner managers of incorporated enterprises increased as a proportion of total employed from 5% in 1993 to 7% in 2005, while owner managers of unincorporated enterprises fell as a proportion of total employed from 16% in 1993 to 13% in 2005.
Hours worked statistics have a wide range of uses, including the calculation of labour productivity, and monitoring working conditions. Information on hours worked allows the ABS to classify employed people as full time or part time, and also to identify underemployed people (in conjunction with information about wanting to work more hours).
The LFS now records weekly hours worked data for employed people on three different bases:
Actual hours worked in all jobs
Refers to hours actually worked in the survey reference week, including overtime and excluding time off.
Actual hours worked in main job
Refers to hours actually worked in the survey reference week (including overtime and excluding any time off) in the job in which the most hours are usually worked.
Usual hours worked in all jobs
Refers to the hours usually worked per week by an employed person.
Data for the latter two measures are available from April 2001, while the first measure has been collected since the national LFS began in the 1960s.
Graph 6.17 shows average weekly hours worked for employed people for the three measures of hours worked. Average weekly hours worked is defined as aggregate hours worked by employed people during the reference week divided by the number of employed people.
The two average weekly hours actually worked measures are influenced by seasonal factors (e.g. customs in taking leave at particular times of the year), economic factors (e.g. workplace-related influences such as seasonal employment), and absences from work due to public holidays, sickness, irregular shifts, etc. Large movements occur around the months of January, April and October. The average weekly hours worked in main job series closely follows the average weekly hours worked in all job series, but at a slightly lower level. This indicates that the number of hours worked in second and subsequent jobs, averaged across all employed people, is relatively small.
Average weekly hours usually worked in all jobs exhibits much lower levels of variability over the period since April 2002. This is because the usual hours worked series is not affected by the seasonal factors and absences from work that lead to fluctuations in the actual hours worked series.
Actual hours worked in all jobs
In June 2006, 34% of employed men actually worked between 35 and 44 hours per week, and a further 30% actually worked 45 hours or more per week (graph 6.18). In contrast, women were most likely to have worked between 16 and 34 hours per week (37%), or between 35 and 44 hours (27%). Women who actually worked 45 hours or more per week made up 11% of all employed women.
Average weekly hours actually worked by full-time employed people rose from 39.1 hours in 1985-86 to a peak of 41.4 hours in 1999-2000, an increase of 6% (graph 6.19). In 2005-06, full-time employed people worked an average of 40.1 hours per week, down from the 40.7 hours per week recorded in 2004-05.
From 1985-86 to 2005-06 there was a steady increase in the number of hours actually worked by part-time workers as a proportion of the total number of hours actually worked (graph 6.20). In 1985-86, 8% of all hours actually worked were in part-time employment; by 2005-06 this proportion had risen to 14%. For men, 6% of the total number of hours actually worked were in part-time employment in 2005-06, whereas for women the proportion was much greater (27%).
Usual hours worked in all jobs
The usual hours worked in all jobs by full-time employed persons declined slightly from 2001-02 to 2005-06, from 44.5 hours per week to 44.1 hours per week. Graph 6.22 shows average weekly hours usually worked in all jobs, by occupation, for full-time employed people. In 2005-06, Managers and administrators had the highest average weekly usual hours for full-time employed men (51.0 hours per week) and women (46.3), followed by Associate professionals (47.3 and 43.6). The occupation with the lowest average weekly hours for full-time employed people usually worked was Elementary clerical, sales and service workers (42.4 hours per week for men and 39.0 hours per week for women). The next lowest average weekly hours usually worked for full-time employed men was Advanced clerical and service workers (42.7 hours per week), and Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers for full-time employed women (39.6 hours per week).
The overall average weekly hours usually worked for men (41.4) was over ten hours greater than for women (30.9) (table 6.21). This was partly due to men working longer average weekly hours in full-time employment (45.4) than women (41.4), and also because women were more likely to work part time than men.