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6265.0 - Underemployed Workers, Australia, Sep 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/04/2003   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

OVERVIEW

There were 9,367,400 employed persons aged 15 years and over in September 2002. Of these:

  • 589,800 (6%) usually worked part time and wanted to work more hours
  • 526,400 (6%) usually worked part time and wanted more hours and were available to start work with more hours in the reference week, or within four weeks of interview
  • 47,900 (0.5%) 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). The majority of these were male (76%).

PART-TIME WORKERS WHO WANT MORE HOURS

In September 2002, there were 2,625,000 part-time workers. Of these, 22% wanted to work more hours, a decrease of two percentage points since September 2001. The proportion of part-time workers wanting more hours was higher for males (30%) than for females (19%). A similar pattern occurred in previous years.

Characteristics of part-time workers who want more hours

In September 2002, there were 589,800 persons who worked part time and wanted to work more hours. The majority (57%) of these persons wanted to work full time, a decrease of 3 percentage points since September 2001. For males, the proportion who wanted to work full time (72%) has not changed since September 2001, whereas the proportion of females wanting to work full time has dropped by 5 percentage points (from 52% to 47%).

Duration of insufficient work

The median duration of the current period of insufficient work for persons who worked part time and wanted to work more hours was 26 weeks for both males and females. For males aged 45-54 years, the median duration of insufficient work was 43 weeks, compared with 50 weeks for females.

Available to start work with more hours in the reference week

There were 243,500 part-time workers looking for work with more hours who were available to start work with more hours in the reference week. This is the group of underemployed workers which most closely aligns with criteria applied in the ABS definition of unemployment, that is, actively looking for work, and available for work in the reference week. Females comprised just over half of these workers (56%).

Of those 589,800 persons working part time who wanted to work more hours, 77% (453,900) had looked for work with more hours in the four weeks prior to the survey, or were available to start work with more hours in the reference week. The remaining 23% (135,900 persons) were not looking for work with more hours in the four weeks prior to the survey and were not available in the reference week. Of these, 80,200 were available to start work with more hours within the next four weeks.

LOOKING FOR OR AVAILABLE TO START WORK

Ninety-one per cent (534,100) of part-time workers wanting more hours were looking for or available to start work with more hours in the reference week or within four weeks. This proportion has remained steady since September 2000. Almost one-third (31%) of these usually work 10 hours or less.

Extra hours wanted

Of those part-time workers who were looking for or available to start work with more hours:

  • 43% wanted to work 10-19 extra hours
  • 27% wanted to work less than 10 extra hours each week
  • 21% wanted to work 20-29 extra hours
  • 9% wanted to work an additional 30 hours or more.

The mean preferred number of extra hours each week was 15.2 hours. Males wanted to work an average of 16.7 extra hours compared with an average of 14.2 extra hours for females. The mean preferred number of extra hours was highest for persons aged 25-34 years (16.5 hours) and lowest for persons aged 15-19 years (13.5 hours).


MEAN EXTRA HOURS WANTED

Graph: Mean extra hours wanted

Of those persons who usually work 10 hours or less per week, just over half (55%) wanted up to 19 extra hours. Thirty-nine per cent of those who usually work 11-20 hours wanted 20-29 extra hours, and 40% wanted to work 10-19 extra hours per week. Nearly all those who usually work 21-34 hours (97%) wanted less than 20 extra hours.

Job search experience

Of those part-time workers who wanted more hours, 301,100 (51%) had been looking for work with more hours.

The main reasons given for not having found work with additional hours were:

  • no vacancies in line of work (21%)
  • lacked necessary skills or education (11%)
  • too many applicants for available jobs (9%)
  • no vacancies at all (9%)
  • considered too young or too old by employers (9%)
  • unsuitable hours (8%).

The steps most frequently taken to find work with more hours were:
  • contacted prospective employers (65%)
  • looked in newspapers (57%)
  • asked current employer for more work (52%)
  • searched Internet sites (26%)
  • contacted friends or relatives (24%)
  • registered with Centrelink (23%)
  • answered a newspaper advertisement for a job (21%).s

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