Figure 6.5 shows total hours worked for the Electricity, gas & water industry between 1985-86 and 2005-06. The chart shows that there was a marked decline in total hours worked between 1985-86 and 1997-98, with positive growth since. Total hours worked for the three subdivisions are also shown in figure 6.5. All three subdivisions show a similar pattern of decline between 1985-86 and 1997-98. Gas industry growth is more volatile due to the smaller size of its workforce.
6.5 Electricity, gas & water hours worked,
(2004-05 = 100)
The fall in hours worked in the Electricity, gas & water industry between 1985-86 and 1997-98 was due to falls in employment across the three sub-industries (figure 6.6). However, since 1997-98 employment levels have been stable, and even increasing in recent years. There is evidence that some Electricity utilities may be conducting own-account capital work, and this is a possible reason for the increase in employment. However, own-account capital work will also be reflected in the output of the industry.
There are a number of possible reasons based on anecdotal evidence as to the recent increase in employment. For instance:
- with the separation of functions in the Electricity industry, there would be the need to replicate head office staff
- with the advent of the National Electricity Market there has been an increase in retail activity, which may require increases in employment through expanded marketing outlets
- capital equipment in this industry has been rundown, and employment is required to perform maintenance and/or replacement work
- for the Water industry, the utilities may require more labour to supply water to households and industries as a result of the latest drought.
Over the last 20 years there has been a decline in full-time employment while there has been strong growth in part-time employment. The main occupations in Electricity, gas & water are tradespersons, professionals, clerical and service workers. Across all occupations there were declines up to 2000-01. This was followed by a strong pickup in tradespersons and professionals from 2001-02.
6.6 Electricity, gas & water employment