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Special Article - Full-time and part-time employment (Oct, 2001)
Unlike full-time employment, the number of persons in part-time employment has not fluctuated markedly around its historical long-term trend. The growth in the number of people working part time between late 1993 and mid 2000 was particularly even. After being at approximately the same level as the historical long-term trend since early 1996, the number of people in part-time employment fell slightly below the historical long-term trend from September 2000. It has been above the historical long-term trend since April 2001.
CHANGES IN PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT
The increase in part-time employment over the last decade has occurred at a time of significant underlying changes in the economy and in society more generally. Some of these changes have affected the demand for part-time labour while others have influenced the supply.
Changes in demand for labour
The increase in demand for part-time labour is often associated with restructuring within Australia’s economy, and in particular the relative growth in service industries, the deregulation of the workplace and the introduction of new technologies.
The demand for part-time labour is concentrated in a small number of industries. In August 2001, 50% of part-time workers were employed in just three service industries: Retail trade, Health and community services, and Property and business services. These same industries accounted for only 31% of full-time employment.
Industries with higher proportions of part-time employment have accounted for most of the growth in total employment over the last decade. Those with smaller proportions of part-time employment have increased their total employment levels only slowly, or not at all. There were eight industry divisions in which part-time employment accounted for 20% or more of total employment in August 2001. These industries accounted for 79% (2.0 million) of the total part-time employment of 2.6 million, although they only accounted for just over half (52%) of full-time employment. Except for Agriculture, all of the industries belong to the service sector.
EMPLOYMENT BY INDUSTRY
Part-time employment, as a proportion of total employment, increased in almost all the major industry groups over the last ten years. The largest of the increases were in the Retail trade and Health and community services industries. A number of developments are likely to have contributed to the overall trend toward part-time work across all industries. For example, relaxation of trading hour restrictions, and the introduction of new technologies that have extended production schedules and operating times, have increased the demand for part-time employment. In some industries, including the Wholesale trade, Mining, and Manufacturing industries, the increase in part-time employment was accompanied by decreases in full-time employment.
PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT, as a proportion of total employment
Changes in supply of labour
Female workers account for the majority (71% in October 2001) of the supply of part-time labour. Women aged 25-54 years accounted for almost half of all part-time workers (47%) and this may largely be associated with women balancing work and family responsibilities. The share of male workers in part-time employment has also increased over the last decade, from 24% in 1991 to 29% in 2001. However, the main factor associated with the increase in part-time employment over the recent decades is the increase in the number of women entering the labour force.
Part-time employment is also used as a source of short-term jobs by young people while participating in full-time and part-time education, or as a stepping stone to full-time work. In October 2001, young males and young females represented 12% and 17% of part-time workers, respectively. Older workers may use part-time work during the transition to retirement. They have increased their share of part-time employment over the last decade - from 10% in October 1991 to 14% in October 2001.
The majority of people in part-time employment prefer part-time work to full-time work. In August 2001, 7% of part-time workers wanted to work full-time and were actively looking for full-time work. A larger proportion of male part-time workers would prefer to work full time compared to female part-time workers (13% and 5% respectively in August 2001). The proportion of part-time workers preferring full-time work has been relatively stable over the last decade for female workers, although it has shown a general decrease for male part-time workers.
PART-TIME WORKERS LOOKING FOR FULL-TIME HOURS (a)(b), as a proportion of total part-time employment
The number of women in employment, and the proportion of employed women working part time, has increased significantly over recent decades. Over the ten years from October 1991 to October 2001, their proportion of total employment increased from 42% to 44%. The increase in the number of employed women, in total and as a proportion of total employment, has been strongly associated with the increase in the supply of part-time labour. The proportion of employed women who work part time has increased from 40% in October 1991 to 45% in October 2001. In comparison, the proportion of employed men working part time was 14% in October 2001.
FEMALE EMPLOYMENT, AS A PROPORTION OF TOTAL EMPLOYMENT - TREND
Part-time employment is also used as a source of short-term jobs by young people (those aged 15-24 years) while participating in full-time and part-time education, and as a pathway to full-time work. Young workers represented 29% of total part-time employment in October 2001. The proportion of employed young people who work part time (44% in October 2001) is considerably higher than the average across all age groups (28%), and has increased steadily over the last decade (from 30% in October 1991). This increase has coincided with the increase in educational attendance among young people. In October 2001, 46% of young people were attending an educational institution full time, the highest proportion at anytime in the last 25 years. Of these, 40% were working part time, which is a high proportion compared to previous years.
PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT AND FULL-TIME EDUCATION FOR 15-24 YEAR OLDS (a)
Part-time work by older workers (those aged 55 years and over) is often associated with the transition from full-time work to retirement. In October 2001, 34% of older workers were employed part time, compared with 26% in October 1991. Older workers still make up only a small proportion of part-time employment (14% in October 2001), although the number of older part-time workers has doubled since October 1991, when they represented 10% of total part-time employment.
For further information relating to full-time and part-time employment statistics from the Labour Force Survey, please contact Peter Bradbury on (02) 6252 6565, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 The historical long-term trend is a 199 term Henderson Moving Average used to remove the influence of changes in the economic cycle.
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