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People are considered to be employed if they were in paid work, or helping in a family business, for one hour or more in the reference week. Those people who were absent from work in the reference week are also considered to be employed, unless they had been on unpaid leave for more than four weeks. This section contains information about people who are employed, including whether they worked full-time or part-time, the industry and occupation they worked in, and the characteristics of their employment arrangements.
Full-time and part-time employment
In the ABS Labour Force Survey, employed persons are regarded as either full-time or part-time, depending on the number of hours worked. Full-time workers are those who usually work 35 hours or more per week in all jobs, or, although usually working less than 35 hours a week, actually worked 35 hours or more during the reference week of the Labour Force Survey. Part-time workers are those who usually work less than 35 hours a week and either did so during the reference week, or were not at work during the reference week.
Graph 6.10 shows annual percentage changes in part-time and full-time employment since 1983-84. For most of this period, part-time employment increased at a greater rate than full-time employment. As a result the proportion of part-time employed persons has risen over the period, increasing from 17% in 1983-84 to 28% in 2003-04. However, between 2002-03 and 2003-04, full-time employment increased at a greater rate than part-time employment - the first time since the commencement of the monthly Labour Force Survey in 1978.
Following a period of strong economic growth in the late-1980s and early-1990s, and the subsequent recession of the early-1990s, employment growth fluctuated considerably. In 1988-89 growth in full-time employment peaked at 3.6%. Part-time employment grew strongly in 1989-90, peaking at 8.2%. Subsequently the rate of growth of full-time and part-time employment began to slow. At the onset of the recession in 1990-91, full-time employment fell by 1.6%. The impact of the recession and its effects on the demand for labour intensified in 1991-92 when full-time employment fell more strongly, recording a decrease of 3.4%. At the same time, the rate of growth of part-time employment increased slightly from 3.2% in 1990-91 to 3.8% in 1991-92.
A similar pattern was also evident in 2001-02, when a decrease in full-time employment was accompanied by a peak in the growth of part-time employment.
In 2003-04 there were 9.6 million employed persons, with 72% working full-time (table 6.11). Males were far more likely than females to work full-time (85% and 54% respectively). Part-time work was most prevalent among the younger (aged 15-19) and older (65 and over) age groups (67% and 56% respectively). For females, at least a third of each age group worked part-time, with the 20-24 and 25-34 year age groups having the lowest proportion of part-time workers (39% and 35% respectively).
Employment by industry and occupation
The distribution of employed persons across industries and occupations, and the changes over time, provide an important insight into the structure of the labour market. Graph 6.12 provides information on the proportion of employed persons, by industry, for the years 1988-89 and 2003-04.
Since 1988-89 the industry composition of the labour market has changed considerably. Historically, the manufacturing industry has been the dominant employing industry, but its contribution to the number of employed persons has been declining. As recently as 1990-91, the manufacturing industry was the largest employer. However, it is now third to retail trade, and property and business services industries, which have 15.1% and 11.8% of employed persons respectively. Manufacturing has fallen from 15.9% of all employed persons in 1988-89 to 11.2% in 2003-04. Employment in other traditional commodity-based industries, such as the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry, and mining have also declined over this period.
Over the period 1988-89 to 2003-04, service-based industries have increased their share of employed persons and now include the two largest industries. The increase was greatest for the property and business services industry, from 7.3% to 11.8%, while health and community services has risen from 8.6% to 10.0%, accommodation, cafes and restaurants from 3.8% to 4.9%, and retail trade from 14.1% to 15.1%.
Table 6.13 shows the proportion of employed persons in each broad occupation group by age, for 2003-04. The most common occupation group was professionals (19.0%), followed by intermediate clerical, sales and service workers (17.0%). Advanced clerical and service workers was the least prevalent occupation group (4.0%).
There is a correlation between age and occupation, with a higher proportion of employed persons in the younger age groups employed in the lower skilled occupations, and a higher proportion of employed persons in the older age groups employed in the more highly skilled occupations. For example, less than 1% of 15-19 year olds and less than 2% of 20-24 year olds were employed as managers and administrators, while at the other end of the age spectrum, in the age group 65 years and over, 24.8% were employed in this occupation group. In the 15-19 year age group, 41.7% of persons were employed as elementary clerical, sales and service workers, and a further 17.6% as labourers and related workers. The proportion of 20-24 year olds employed in these occupation groups was considerably lower (16.8% and 10.7% respectively), and continued to be lower in all other age groups.
There are large gender differences in occupations. Females dominate clerical occupations groups, such as advanced clerical and service workers; intermediate clerical, sales and service workers; and elementary clerical, sales and service workers. Males dominate the trade occupations, including tradespersons and related workers, and intermediate production and transport workers (graph 6.14). For example, a higher proportion of males were employed as tradespersons and related workers (20.9% compared with 2.7% of females), while a higher proportion of females were employed as intermediate clerical, sales and service workers (27.6% compared with 8.5% of males).
Characteristics of employment
Working life in Australia continues to change. There are more diverse employment arrangements, more flexible working time patterns, and more people working part-time hours. This section looks at the types of arrangements people are employed under, and the hours they work.
The ABS Forms of Employment Survey for November 2001 collected information on persons employed in a range of situations and described their working arrangements. Employed persons, excluding contributing family workers and persons working for payment in kind only, were classified to one of five employment types on the basis of their main job, that is, the job in which they usually worked the most hours. The employment types are: employees with paid leave entitlements; self-identified casuals; employees without paid leave entitlements who did not identify as a casual; owner managers of incorporated enterprises; and owner managers of unincorporated enterprises.
Of the 9.1 million employed persons at November 2001, over half (58%) were employees with paid leave entitlements. Other large groups were self-identified casuals (20%) and owner managers of unincorporated enterprises (13%).
Graph 6.15 shows that although the proportion of employed persons who were employees with paid leave entitlements was similar for males (59%) and females (58%), more females identified themselves as casual employees (27%) than males (15%). In contrast, the proportion of employed males working in their own business was higher than for females (24% compared with 14%).
Hours data have a wide range of uses, including calculation of productivity, and monitoring working conditions. Information on hours worked allows the ABS to classify employed persons as full-time or part-time, and also to identify underemployed persons (in conjunction with measures of those wanting to work more hours). There are a number of measures of hours of work, and this section examines the number of hours that employed persons have actually worked in all jobs during the reference week.
Average weekly hours worked is defined as aggregate hours worked by a group of employed persons during the reference week divided by the number of employed persons in that group. Graph 6.16 shows that the average weekly hours worked by full-time employed persons rose from 38.7 in 1983-84 to 41.4 in 1999-2000, an increase of 7%. In 2003-04 full-time employed persons worked an average of 40.4 hours per week, down from the 41.2 hours per week recorded in 2002-03.
As shown in graph 6.17, the average weekly hours worked in 2003-04 differed across occupations and gender. The greatest difference was in the managers and administrators occupation group where, on average, males worked 10.5 hours per week longer than females.
Managers and administrators also recorded the highest average weekly hours for employed males (48.0 hours per week) and females (37.5), followed by associate professionals (43.8 and 35.5). The two occupation groups with the lowest average weekly hours worked for both males and females were elementary clerical, sales and service workers (28.2 hours per week for males and 21.3 hours per week for females), and labourers and related workers (32.5 for males and 23.7 for females).
The overall average weekly hours worked for males (38.0) was over 10 hours greater than for females (27.7), as shown in table 6.18. This was due partly to males working longer average weekly hours in full-time employment (41.9) than females (37.5), and also because females were more likely than males to work part-time.
Graph 6.19 shows in June 2004, 37% of employed males worked between 35 and 44 hours per week and a further 36% worked 45 hours or more per week. In contrast, 32% of employed females worked between 35 and 44 hours per week, while a further 13% worked 45 hours or more per week.
Graph 6.20 shows from 1983-84 to 2003-04 there was a steady increase in the number of hours worked by part-time workers as a percentage of the total number of hours worked. In 1983-84, 8% of all hours worked were in part-time employment; by 2003-04 this proportion had risen to 14%. For males, 6% of the total number of hours worked were attributed to part-time employment in 2003-04, whereas for females the proportion was much greater (26%).