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In September 2002, there were 574,300 underemployed persons (table 6.27). Of these, 8% (47,900 persons) worked part-time hours for economic reasons, for example stood down. Men were more likely than women to be underemployed for these reasons (15% of underemployed men in September 2002, compared with 3% of underemployed women).
Most underemployed people (92%) were part-time workers wanting more work. The 526,400 underemployed part-time workers accounted for 20% of all part-time workers. The majority of underemployed people were women. This is partly because women are far more likely to be working part-time than men. In September 2002, there were 1.9 million women working part-time, compared with 748,600 men.
Men working part-time are more likely to be underemployed than women working part-time. In September 2002, 27% of all male part-time workers were underemployed, compared with 17% of female part-time workers. In September 1994, these proportions were 33% and 17% respectively (graph 6.28).
Preference for full-time work
While all underemployed workers want to work more hours, not all want to work full-time. Underemployed men are more likely to want full-time work than underemployed women. In September 2002, almost three-quarters (73%) of all underemployed male part-time workers wanted full-time work, compared with nearly half (49%) of underemployed female part-time workers.
Job search activities
In September 2002, more than half (56%) of all underemployed part-time workers had actively looked for additional hours of work in the previous four weeks. The most common steps taken by these people to find additional work were contacting prospective employers (66%), looking in newspapers (57%) and asking their current employers for more work (53%). Almost one-quarter (24%) had registered with Centrelink (graph 6.29).
Difficulties in finding work
In September 2002, almost one in three (30%) underemployed part-time workers looking for additional hours of work said their main difficulty in finding work with more hours was that there were no vacancies in their line of work, or simply no vacancies at all. For an additional 29%, the main difficulty was that there were too many applicants for available jobs, that they were considered too young or too old by employers, or that they lacked necessary skills or education.
Men were more likely than women to mention one of these five reasons as their main difficulty in finding additional work (62% of male part-time workers looking and available for additional work compared with 56% of females). Women were more likely than men to cite difficulties related to a lack of necessary skills or education (9% of males compared with 12% of females) and unsuitable hours (6% of males compared with 10% of females) (graph 6.30).
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Underemployed Workers, Australia, cat. no. 6265.0, various issues, ABS, Canberra.
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