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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2001  
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Contents >> Work >> Paid Work: Changing employer or business

Paid Work: Changing employer or business

1.2 million Australians changed employer in the year ending February 2000.

Each year in Australia, many workers move to a position with a new employer or business. Their reasons for doing so may be social, economic or career-related. For example, a change of employer may be motivated by the desire to gain further career experience, to obtain better working arrangements or conditions, or in response to life cycle events such as having children or gaining educational qualifications.

A person's decision to change employer may also be influenced by the economic conditions such as the business cycle and differences in the availability of jobs in different industries and occupations. The nature of a person's occupation and whether their skills are readily transferable may also mean that they are more or less likely to change employer.

This article focuses primarily on those people who moved to a new employer or business in the 12 months to February 2000. However, people also experience changes in their job, such as transfers and promotions, while working for the same employer. These changes are the focus of the article, Changes experienced at work (see Australian Social Trends 2001).


Data on job mobility
The ABS Labour Mobility Survey is conducted every two years in February as a supplement to the ABS monthly Labour Force Survey. This survey provides data on job mobility for persons aged 15-69 years, a subset of whom are those workers who change employer or business.

This article will focus primarily on those people who changed employer or business (with or without a change in locality) during a 12 month period.

The 2000 Labour Mobility Survey collected details about jobs held in the 12 months prior to the survey reference month of February 2000. Persons were considered to be job mobile if during this period they either:
  • changed employer or business with or without a change in locality; or
  • changed locality without a change of employer or business.

A change in locality occurs if a person moves to a job in another city or town, or to a job in another suburb in a capital city or major town.


Trends in job mobility
Changing employer or business is only one form of job mobility. Workers who change locality are also considered to be job mobile. During the period 1990-2000, the annual rate of job mobility has ranged between 13% and 18%. Job mobility was at its lowest (13%) during 1992, a time of economic downturn in Australia. A similar decrease in job mobility occurred in the mid-1980s with job mobility falling from 17% in 1982 to 14% in 1984.

The proportion of people who are job mobile has remained fairly steady since 1994. In the year to February 1994, 1.2 million (15% of all employed persons) were job mobile, increasing slightly to 1.5 million (16%) in the year to February 2000.

Of those who were job mobile in 2000, the majority (1.2 million people) changed employer. In February 2000, four out of every five job mobile people had changed employer or business.

PROPORTION OF WORKERS(a) WHO WERE JOB MOBILE(b)

1990
1992
1994
1996
1998
2000

%
%
%
%
%
%
Changed employer or business(c)
14.9
9.6
11.3
12.6
11.4
12.8
Changed locality only
3.4
3.1
3.2
3.1
2.9
3.1
Total job mobile
18.4
12.8
14.5
15.8
14.3
15.8

'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
All workers
8,628.0
8,564.1
8,602.3
9,141.9
9,243.8
9,673.0

(a) Persons who worked at some time during the 12 months ending February.
(b) In the 12 months to February.
(c) This includes those persons who changed both employer/business and locality.

Source: Labour Mobility, Australia, 2000 (ABS cat. no. 6209.0).


Reasons for changing employer
There are a variety of reasons, both positive and negative, why people cease jobs or change employer, ranging from career aspirations to family circumstances.

An important distinction among those who change employer is whether the change is voluntary (for example the result of finding a better job), or involuntary (as a result of retrenchment or leaving a job due to ill health). In the year to February 2000, people were more likely to change employer voluntarily than involuntarily. Of the 1.1 million people who changed employer or business and were working in February 2000, 73% left their job voluntarily. Of those, 61% did so for a better job. This was followed by 21% leaving due to unsatisfactory work conditions and 17% who retired or left for family or other reasons.

While most people changed employer voluntarily, 27% of people left their jobs involuntarily. Of those, almost two thirds were retrenched and 29% finished temporary or seasonal employment but found another job within the 12 months to February 2000.

PERSONS WHO CHANGED EMPLOYER OR BUSINESS(a), REASON FOR LEAVING PREVIOUS JOB, 2000

Reason for ceasing job
%

Job leavers
    Better job
61.2
    Unsatisfactory work conditions
20.6
    Retired, family and other reasons
17.2
    Temporary or seasonal work
1.0
    Total job leavers
100.0
Job leavers as a proportion of all persons who changed employer or business
73.1
    Job losers
    Retrenched
64.2
    Temporary or seasonal work
29.2
    Own ill health or injury
6.6
    Total job losers
100.0
Job leavers as a proportion of all persons who changed employer or business
26.9

(a) In the 12 months ending February 2000, and who were working in February 2000.

Source: ABS 2000 Labour Mobility Survey.


Age and sex
People are more likely to change employer at particular stages in their working lives. In general, younger people at a formative stage in their career, without family commitments, or who may be working part-time while studying, are more likely to change employer or business. After the ages of 20-24 years the likelihood of changing employer decreases.

In the 12 months to February 2000, those in the 20-24 year age group had the highest proportion changing employer, with 270,500 or almost one in four people changing employer. This relatively high level of change for workers in this age group is partly the result of a large proportion completing their formal education. As a large number of students combine study with part-time work (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Combining study and work), the completion of a qualification would often involve a move from part-time or casual work which does not require qualifications, to full-time work, usually with a different employer. In the year ending February 2000, over half of all 20-24 year olds who were working part-time in February 1999, and who changed employer or business, moved from part-time to full-time work.

People aged 35 years and over were the least likely to change employer, with only 10% of 35-44 year olds, 7% of 45–54 year olds and 4% of 55-69 year olds changing employer in the year to February 2000. These lower proportions may be a reflection of more established careers and increased family and financial commitments among people in these age groups.

The proportion of people changing employer across age groups is similar for men and women, but men are slightly more likely to change across most age groups. There was also a difference in the proportion of men who were married with dependent children who changed employer (11%) compared with women (8%).

PROPORTION OF PERSONS(a) WHO CHANGED EMPLOYER OR BUSINESS(b), 2000

(a) Persons who worked at some time during the year ending February 2000.
(b) In the year ending February 2000.

Source: ABS 2000 Labour Mobility Survey.


Occupation and industry
For a large proportion of people, changing employer or business is also accompanied by a change in industry and/or a change in occupation. There were around a million people who were working in both February 1999 and February 2000 who changed employer during this period. Of these, 486,000 workers, or almost half of those who changed employer, also changed broad industry group, while 384,200 workers changed broad occupation group. There were 290,200 workers who changed employer who also changed both occupation and industry.

The tendency to change employer differed across occupations, with the highest proportions of people changing employer occurring in the lower skill level occupations (with the exception of Professionals, 11% of whom changed employer). This reflects a tendency towards shorter job duration in these occupations.1 In the year to February 2000, the occupations for which people were most likely to change employer were Labourers and related workers (15%), Elementary clerical, sales and service workers (15%), and Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers (14%). The occupation group with the lowest proportion of people changing employer was Managers and administrators (6%).

OCCUPATION OF PERSONS WHO CHANGED EMPLOYER OR BUSINESS(a), 2000

Total who changed employer or business
Proportion who changed employer or business
Proportion who changed occupation(b)
Major group (of occupation) at February 1999 (Skill level(c))
‘000
%
%

Managers and administrators (1)
35.9
6.0
55.7
Professionals (1)
166.6
10.7
19.5
Associate professionals (2)
95.9
9.6
49.9
Tradespersons and related workers (3)
142.4
12.0
30.5
Advanced clerical and service workers (3)
40.4
10.2
33.1
Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers (4)
196.3
13.6
35.2
Intermediate production and transport workers (4)
98.2
12.7
41.5
Elementary clerical, sales and service workers (5)
124.8
15.1
55.2
Labourers and related workers (5)
120.7
15.2
40.1
Total
1,021.2
11.9
37.6

(a) In the 12 months to February 2000, and who were working in February 1999.
(b) From one Major group of occupation to another.
(c) Occupations are based on the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Second edition (ABS cat. no. 1220.0), which classifies occupations by skill level ranked from 1 (the highest) to 5 (the lowest).

Source: ABS 2000 Labour Mobility Survey.


The likelihood of changing employer and occupation varied across occupations, and may in part be related to skill specialisation. Persons who were employed as Tradespersons and related workers or Professionals were relatively less likely to change occupation (20% and 31% respectively) than other groups. This may be related to the relatively specialised nature of the skills, qualifications and experience required for these types of occupations.

While Managers and administrators were least likely to change employer, they were most likely to also change occupation if they changed employer. Over half of the Managers and administrators who changed employer in the year ending February 2000 also changed occupation. High proportions of occupational change were also recorded for Elementary clerical, sales and service workers (55%) and Associate Professionals (50%).

People's tendency to change employer also differed across industries. The industry in which people were most likely to change employer in the year to February 2000, was Accommodation, cafes and restaurants (21%). This may be due in part to the relatively high level of casual and part-time employment in this industry. Relatively high proportions of people also changed employer in the Mining (16%), Property and business services (16%) and Retail trade (14%) industries. Industries in which a relatively small proportion of workers changed employer included Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (8%), Personal and recreation services (8%) and Education (9%).

PERSONS WHO CHANGED EMPLOYER OR BUSINESS(a) BY INDUSTRY, 2000

Industry at February 1999
%

Accommodation, cafes and restaurants
20.9
Mining
16.0
Property and business services
15.5
Retail trade
14.0
Construction
12.7
Cultural and recreational services
12.6
Manufacturing
11.3
Wholesale trade
10.9
Finance and insurance
10.6
Transport and storage
10.5
Electricity, gas and water supply
9.7
Government administration and defence
9.6
Health and community services
9.2
Education
8.6
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
8.4
Personal services
7.9
Communication services
7.8
All industries
11.9

'000
All industries
1,021.2

(a) In the 12 months to February 2000, and who were working in February 1999.

Source: ABS 2000 Labour Mobility Survey.


Changing full-time/part-time status
Around one in five workers who changed employer (during the 12 months ending February 2000) made a change between full-time and part-time work. The majority of these changes were from part-time to full-time work.

There were 311,800 people who were working part-time in February 1999, who changed employer in the following year. Almost half of these moved to full-time status with their new employer. Of the 709,100 workers who were employed full-time in February 1999, 11% moved to part-time work.

FULL-TIME/PART-TIME STATUS OF PERSONS WHO CHANGED EMPLOYER OR BUSINESS(a), 2000

Persons
Changed status(b)
Status at February 1999
'000
%

Working full-time
709.1
10.9
Working part-time
311.8
44.1
Total(c)
1,021.2
21.0

(a) In the 12 months to February 2000.
(b) From full-time to part-time, or part-time to full-time.
(c) Includes a small proportion of persons whose full-time/part-time status was not known.

Source: ABS 2000 Labour Mobility Survey.


Endnotes
1 Norris, K. and McLean, B. 2000, ‘How long do jobs last in Australia?’, Australian Bulletin of Labour, vol, 26, no. 2 , pp. 97-106.

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