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Special Article - Casual employment (Jul, 1999)
The sizeable increase in the number of casual employees has been due predominantly to a large increase in the number of casually employed males. Between 1988 and 1998, the number of male casual employees increased by 115% from 415,700 to 894,100. Over the same period the number of non-casual male employees decreased by 2% from 3,127,800 to 3,064,100, indicating a major shift in the structure of the male workforce.
The number of female casual employees increased by 43% between 1988 and 1998. Despite the difference in the rates of increase of casually employed males and females, females continued to represent a greater proportion of casual employees. In August 1998, 54% of casual employees were female.
2 CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY SEX
In August 1998, the highest proportions of casuals were in the 15-24 age group (44.5%) and 55 and over age group (27.8%). The proportion of casuals for employees within the 25-54 age span was 21.8%. Approximately one third of all casuals were aged between 15 and 24.
The 15-19 and 20-24 age groups recorded the largest increases in the proportion of casuals between August 1988 and August 1998. Within these age groups, the increases in the number of casual employees coincided with decreases in the number of other employees. For casual employees aged 25 and older, males and females displayed quite different rates of increase. The proportion of casual males aged 25 and older more than doubled between 1988 and 1998, while for females aged 25 and older, the proportion of casuals decreased slightly.
3 CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY AGE AND SEX
The highest proportion of casuals was in the 15-19 age group in both 1988 and 1998. This age group contains many full-time students and persons entering full-time employment for the first time. In 1998, 93% of teenage employees who were full-time students, were casual employees. Of teenage employees who were not full-time students, 48% were casual employees.
The proportion of casuals was also high in the 55 and older age group in both 1988 and 1998. This age group contains workers approaching retirement. Thus, the proportion of casuals was highest in the 15-19 and 55 and older age groups. These were also the age groups with the lowest rates of labour force participation, as people moved into or out of the labour force.
Casual workers tend to work in lower skilled occupations. In August 1998, the only occupation group containing more casual employees than other employees was Elementary clerical, sales and service workers. Casual employees also made up a large component of Labourers and related workers.
4 CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY OCCUPATION OF MAIN JOB - AUGUST 1998
Generally, the proportion of casuals decreased as the skill level of the occupation group increased. The proportion of casuals was lowest for the occupation groups Managers and administrators; Professionals; Associate professionals; and Tradespersons and related workers.
In August 1998, the industries with the highest proportions of casuals were Agriculture, forestry and fishing; Accommodation, cafes and restaurants; Cultural and recreational services; and Retail trade. Retail trade was the industry with the highest number of casual employees. These industries tend to have substantial fluctuations in employment requirements over the year, and employ relatively large numbers of females and/or lower skilled workers.
5 CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY INDUSTRY OF MAIN JOB-AUGUST 1998
The industries with the lowest proportions of casuals were Electricity, gas and water supply; Finance and insurance; and Government administration and defence.
Casual employees were more likely than other employees to work part-time in both August 1988 and August 1998. A part-time employee is defined as any employee who usually works less than 35 hours per week in all jobs. In August 1998, 64% of employees working part- time were casual. In contrast, 14% of full-time employees were casual. The greater the number of hours worked per week, the smaller the proportion of casuals in the category.
6 CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY HOURS WORKED IN ALL JOBS
Between 1988 and 1998, the average number of hours worked by male casual employees increased by 0.6 hours from 28.5 to 29.1 hours per week; the average number of hours worked by female casual employees increased by 0.7 hours from 17.7 to 18.4 hours per week. Over the same period, the average number of hours worked by all casual employees increased by 1.7 hours, from 21.6 to 23.3 hours per week. This difference indicates that the rise in the average number of hours worked per week for all casuals was due more to the increased proportion of male casual employees than the propensity for casual workers to work longer hours.
7 AVERAGE HOURS WORKED PER WEEK FOR CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY SEX
When surveyed, all part-time employees were asked whether they would have preferred to work more hours. The results indicate that not only did casual workers tend to work fewer hours than other employees in August 1998, but casual part-time employees (33%) were more likely than other part-time employees (19%) to prefer to work more hours. These proportions represented an increase from August 1988 when 20% of casual employees and 11% of other employees working part-time would have preferred to work more hours.
Casual employment is most common for employees under 25 years of age and is more prevalent for females than males. Casual employees tend to work in lower skilled occupations, and in seasonal industries. The increase in the number of casual employees in Australia between 1988 and 1998 was much greater than that of other employees over the same period. This increase has been particularly evident for males and for employees aged between 15 and 19. The proportion of casual part-time employees reporting that they would like to work more hours per week also increased.
1 Barnes, P., Johnson, R., Kulys, A. & Hook, S. 1999, Productivity and the Structure of Employment, Productivity Commission Staff Research Paper, AusInfo, Canberra.
Brosnan, P. & Walsh, P. 1996, ‘Non-Standard Employment in Australia and New Zealand: Results From a Workplace Survey’, in Teicher, J. (ed) Non-Standard Employment in Australia and New Zealand, Monograph No. 9 National Key Centre in Industrial Relations, Monash University, Melbourne.
de Ruyter, A. 1998, Casual Employment, Job-seekers and Labour Market Flows, presented to the 5th National Conference on Unemployment, RMIT, Oct 1st and 2nd 1998.
Burgess, J. 1994, ‘Non-standard and Precarious Employment: A Review of Australian Workforce Data’, Labour Economics and Productivity, vol. 6, no. 2, September, pp. 118–129.
Mangan, J. & Williams, C. 1999, ‘Casual Employment in Australia: A Further Analysis’, Australian Economic Papers, vol. 38, no. 2, March, pp. 40–50.
2 Dawkins, P. & Norris, K. 1990, ‘Casual Employment in Australia’, Australian Bulletin of Labour, vol. 16, no. 3, September, pp.156–173.
Simpson, M., Dawkins, P. & Madden, G. 1997, ‘Casual Employment in Australia: Incidence and Determinants’, Australian Economic Papers, vol. 36, no. 2, December, pp. 194–204.
3 Brooks, B. 1992, Contract of Employment: Principles of Australian Employment Law, CCH Australia Limited, Sydney.
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