Footnote(s): (a) Aged 15-64 years.
Source(s): Source: ABS data available on request, Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, 2003
People who provide care for those with disabilities, long-term health conditions and those who are frail or aged, perform an important service by enabling these people to live in the community rather than in institutions (see the glossary for the full definition of 'carers'). However, carers may find it difficult to combine their caring role with paid employment. While this may cause some carers to reduce their hours or to leave employment altogether, drawing a causal link between the caring role and labour force status is not straightforward. The low rate of participation among carers may reflect the fact that, in some households, it may have been most convenient for a person already outside the labour force to take up a caring role when needed. In other households carers may have left the workforce due to their caring role (ABS 2009b).
In 2003, there were around 2 million carers (aged 15-64 years) in Australia, accounting for 15% of people in this age group. There were proportionally more women carers than men (17% of women were carers compared with 13% of men), and women were more likely to take on caring roles at a younger age.
Carers were less likely than non-carers to be employed (63% compared with 73%) and in 2003 were less likely than non-carers to be working full time (63% of those employed compared with 71%). The differences in full-time employment between carers and non-carers were evident for both males and females.
The unemployment rate was slightly higher for carers aged 15-64 years (5.9%) than it was for non-carers (5.4%). However, carers were more likely to be outside the labour force than non-carers (33% compared with 22%).
In 2007, the most common reason reported by carers for being outside the labour force was that they were caring for at least one person who was ill, disabled or elderly (39%). This was more common for older carers aged 45-64 years (46%) than for carers aged 15-44 years (29%). Around half (48%) of carers aged 15-44 years said that they were outside the labour force because they were caring for children (for a child with a disability or long-term health condition). Another 30% of carers aged 15-44 years said that they weren't working because of home duties (ABS 2009b).
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