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Paid Work: Trends in employment population ratios
Between 1980 and 2000, trends in the employment rate for people aged 15-64 years, including those of youth, women, families and older workers reflected underlying changes in society. For example, changes in the traditional roles of full-time employment for the male partner, and child care and household responsibilities for the female partner, began around the 1960s and gained momentum over the 1980s and 1990s. These were associated with a shift away from a male-dominated workforce to one where women were participating to a greater extent, leading to converging employment rates for men and women.
EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS FOR PERSONS AGED 15-64 YEARS
Source: ABS Labour Force Surveys, July 1979 to June 2000.
The period between 1980 and 2000 was also characterised by major changes to industry and workforce structure. Employment growth was concentrated in the service sector and a rise in the number of part-time and casual jobs was offset by a corresponding fall in the number of more traditional permanent full-time jobs (see Australian Social Trends 2000, Employment arrangements in the late 1990s).
In keeping with these trends, various employment population ratios for people aged 15-64 years changed over this period. Part-time employment rates increased from 11% in 1980 to 17% in 2000, while casual employment rates increased from 13% in 1990 (the first year data were available) to 16% in 2000. Between 1980 and 2000, the permanent full-time employment rate fell from 56% to 52%. However, despite these changes, almost three quarters of all employed people were in permanent full-time positions in 2000.
SELECTED EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS
(b) Comprises permanent part-time and casual part-time workers, excluding self-employed people.
(c) Comprises full-time casual and part-time casual workers, excluding self-employed people.
(d) Includes self-employed people. A worker can be both casual and part-time and therefore components do not add to total.
Source: Working Arrangements, Australia, 1997 (ABS cat. no. 6342.0); ABS Labour Force Surveys, July 1979 to June 2000.
Men's and women's employment
Both men's and women's employment rates reflect the changes outlined above. While the rate for men decreased between 1980 and 2000 (from 82% to 77%), the rate for women increased (from 47% to 61%).
Over the period, the proportion of men who were employed was affected by the restructuring of industry and the resulting decline in permanent full-time positions. Even so, the pattern of male employment indicates that most men (62%) commence employment in full-time jobs during their early 20s and remain employed until they retire. Men's employment rates are lowest towards the beginning and end of their working lives - around the ages of 15-19 years and 60-65 years, reflecting participation in education and early retirement, respectively. Between 1980 and 2000, men's employment rates declined slightly across all ages, with the biggest fall in the 55-59 year age group where the rate declined from 81% to 70%.
Between 1980 and 2000, women's employment rates rose substantially across all age groups. The exception was in the 15-19 year age group, where the employment rates of young men and women converged (46% and 50% respectively). The similarity of employment rates in this age group reflects the fact that many young people were in full-time education and not in the workforce.
Changes in employment rates for women occurred alongside changing patterns of family formation, such as the delay in childbearing and reductions in family size (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Older mothers). The lower employment rates for women aged 25-34 years in 1980 compared with 2000, reflected the fact that women were more likely to take a break from paid employment to raise their family. The increase in part-time and casual employment, as well as the reduction in family size and expansion of child care services (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Child care arrangements) led to a decline not only in the number of women taking time out of the workforce but also the length of time they were out of the workforce (see Australian Social Trends 1998, Trends in women's employment). Consequently, the employment rate for women in the main childbearing years of 25-34 years increased, from 50% to 66% between 1980 and 2000.
Between 1908 and 2000, relatively low proportions of women aged 55 years and over were employed compared with women in younger age groups. That said, the increasing propensity for women to enter and stay in the workforce was evident even among older age groups, as shown by the increased employment rate for those aged 45-54 years (from 46% in 1980 to 68% in 2000) and 55-64 years (21% to 34%).
Between 1980 and 2000, the employment population ratio for young people aged 15-24 years remained steady, at around 62%. However, over this time, increasing levels of participation in secondary and tertiary education led to a change in the nature of their employment. Whereas in 1980, many young people moved from school into a full-time job, by 2000 young people were taking on employment in conjunction with full or part-time study. As a result, the full-time employment rate for young people decreased from 53% to 35% over the period. The fall was much greater for 15-19 year olds (40% to 17%) than for 20-24 year olds (65% to 53%).
The increase in part-time and casual employment provided greater opportunities for young people to combine full-time study with work, for some even while still at school (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Combining study and work). This is reflected in the high proportion of young people who were employed in part-time positions in 2000 (64% of 15-19 year olds and 26% of 20-24 year olds).
Young men aged 15-24 years in 1980, had a higher employment rate than young women (68% compared with 56%), but by 2000 the employment rates for young men and women had converged at 61%. Many young people are still living in the family home at this age and have not yet partnered or had children (see Australian Social Trends 2000, Young adults living in the parental home). It is not until after age 25 years, that men's and women's employment rates begin to diverge as the presence of children impacts on their employment arrangements.
FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS OF PERSONS AGED 15-24 YEARS
Source: ABS Labour Force Surveys, July 1979 to June 2000.
Families with children
The most common employment arrangement in families is for both parents to be working. In 2000, 63% of couple families with dependent children had both partners employed. However, in 37% of couple families with dependent children, the father was employed and the mother was not in the labour force. Most men were working full-time and their employment rate was less affected by the presence of children than women's, indicating that for most families, men were still the primary financial provider.
In 2000, women with an employed partner and dependent children were generally less likely to be working than their counterparts without dependent children (63% compared with 76%). However, the likelihood that women with employed partners and dependent children would be working increased with age, reflecting the growing independence of children as they get older. While only 33% of young women with dependent children and employed partners were working, the proportion increased to 73% for women aged 45-64 years in this family situation.
These patterns contrasted markedly with those of women in couple families with an employed partner but without dependent children. These women were more likely to be working and were more likely to be working full-time, particularly those aged 15-44 years, who had full-time employment rates of 65% for the 15-24 years age group and 71% for the 25-44 years age group.
For lone parents, opportunities to enter the workforce are often constrained by child care responsibilities, particularly for those with children who are not yet at school. In 2000, 51% of lone parents were employed. As the age of their youngest child increased, both lone mothers and partnered mothers were more likely to be employed and differences in the employment rates of the two groups decreased.
EMPLOYMENT RATIOS OF FEMALES WITH EMPLOYED PARTNERS, 2000
Employment population ratios for people aged 55-64 years mirror the trend in the total employment population ratio, but at a lower level. Similar to the trends for men and women aged 15-64 years, men aged 55-64 years in 2000 were less likely to be working than previously (59% compared with 67% in 1980), while women were more likely to be working (36% compared with 21%). Within this age group, most of the change occurred among people aged 55-59 years, with the employment rate for men decreasing from 81% to 70% between 1980 and 2000 and that for women increasing from 28% to 46%.
Among 55-64 year olds, as for younger age groups, part-time work has become more common. The 20 years to 2000 have seen the proportion of people in this age group who were employed on a part-time basis increase from 6% of total employment to 28%. This increase in part-time employment suggests a greater propensity to engage in part-time work as a transition to retirement either through choice or because of changing labour market conditions. (see Australian Social Trends 2000, Retirement and retirement intentions).
EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS OF PERSONS AGED 55-64 YEARS
Geography and employment
Employment population ratios vary between States and Territories and between capital cities and regional areas. In 2000, the highest employment rate for 15-64 year olds was in the Australian Capital Territory (76%) and the lowest was in Tasmania (64%).
In New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, the employment rates tended to be higher in the capital cities, which could be due to greater employment opportunities. In contrast, in Western Australia and Tasmania employment rates were slightly higher outside the capital cities. These differences can be attributed to many things, including the varying age structures of each State's population.
REGIONAL EMPLOYMENT POPULATION RATIOS, 2000