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The Economic Security section contains the following sub-topics:
Detailed data for these sub-topics is available from the Downloads tab, above (see Table 1).
Labour force participation
In 2016-17, the labour force participation rate of people aged 20-74 years was 66% for women and 78% for men. While young women aged 15-19 were slightly more likely than young men the same age to be working or looking for work, proportions of men participating in the labour force outstripped those for women in every age group from 20 years and over.
In the decade between 2006-07 and 2016-17, the participation rate for women aged 60-64 increased from 34% to 50%, an increase of 16%: the highest increase in all age groups for both men and women over this time (see Figure 1 below, and Table 1.1 via the Downloads tab for more detail).
Footnote(s): (a) Data averaged using 12 months in the financial year.
Women are much more likely than men to be working part-time. In 2016-17, almost half of employed women worked part time (45%), compared with 16% of employed men (see Table 1.9). This proportion rose to three in five (61%) of employed women with a child under 5, while less than one in ten fathers of young children worked part-time (8.4%).
Women are also a little more likely to work in casual jobs than men. In 2016, 27% of female employees aged 15 years and over did not have paid leave entitlements, compared with 23% of male employees. Almost one in five employed parents of dependent children in couple families did not have paid leave entitlements, and this proportion rose to over one in five lone parents: 17% of partnered fathers and 21% of lone fathers, compared with 19% of partnered mothers, and 26% of lone mothers (see Table 1.12).
In 2016-17, 6.0% of men and 9.7% of women aged 20-74 in the labour force were underemployed; that is they wanted, and were available for, more hours of work than they currently had (see Table 1.15).
Underemployment rates tend to rise for mothers of dependent children, but not for fathers. The underemployment rates for women with school aged children (6-14 years) and non-school aged children (0-5 year olds) were 12% and 9.1% respectively in 2016-17. These proportions have been reasonably consistent over the past decade, as have those of fathers: 3.5% of fathers of dependent children were underemployed in 2016-17.
In 2016-17, the average unemployment rate for 20-74 year olds was 4.8% of men and 5.1% of women (see table 1.14).
Adding people who are either unemployed or underemployed together creates an underutilised labour force population, from which an underutilisation rate can be derived. While the highest underutilisation rate in 2016-17 was for young people aged 15-19 years (40% and 42% respectively of young men and women this age), the biggest gender difference across age groups was for men and women aged 35-44 (a 7.3% percentage point difference, making women in this age group twice as likely as their male counterparts to be looking for more work). Overall, the labour force underutilisation rate in Australia in 2016-17 was 11% for men and 15% for women aged 20-74. See Table 1.16 for more detail.
Just over one in five (22%) Australian men aged 20-74 years was not in the labour force in 2016-17, compared with one in three women in this age group (34%). Proportions of people not in the labour force rise dramatically from the age of 55, while the largest gender differences are for people aged 30-34 years. Reflecting the age when women are likely to be having children (and taking a major role in child care), women aged 25-44 years are more than two and a half times as likely as men in this age group to be out of the labour force. See Table 1.17 for more detail.
Footnote(s): (a) Data averaged using 12 months in the financial year.
Source(s): ABS Survey of Income and Housing, 2005-06 to 2015-16
People with no superannuation coverage may be more financially insecure in other areas as well. In 2015-16, over a quarter (26%) of working aged men and women with no superannuation coverage lived in areas of most socioeconomic disadvantage, compared with 18% of both men and women in this age group overall. They were less likely to have the financial security of home ownership, with 41% each living in rented accommodation (compared with 32% and 31% of men and women in this age group overall). And they tended to have lower incomes: 33% and 34% respectively of working aged men and women with no superannuation coverage were in the lowest quintile of equivalised household income, compared with 15% of men and 16% of women in this age group overall.
In 2013-14, people aged 15-64 years with a disability were more likely to have no superannuation coverage (28% of men and 34% of women) than those with no disability (18% and 23% respectively). Around 32% of women aged 15-64 who were born overseas had no superannuation coverage, compared with 22% of those born in Australia (see Table 3.2.7 Expanded).
Low economic resource households are those in the bottom two quintiles for both income and wealth (this includes imputed rent, which represents the economic benefit to those people who own their own home or who are paying subsidised rent). For most Australians, income is the most important resource they have to meet their living costs. However, reserves of wealth (such as equity in a house) can be drawn upon to maintain living standards in periods of reduced income or substantial unexpected expenses. Considering income and wealth together helps to better understand the economic well-being or vulnerability of households.
In 2015-16, proportions of men and women living in low economic resource households were similar (20% compared with 21%), however, this was quite a different story for lone parents, at 34% of lone fathers and 47% of lone mothers respectively (see Table 2.8 for more detail).
In 2015-16, women were a little more likely than men to live in a home they owned or were buying (60% compared with 56%). While rates of men and women living in a home with a mortgage were similar (33% and 34% respectively), women were slightly more likely own a home outright (26% compared with 23% of men). See Figure 5 below, and Table 2.14 via the Downloads tab for more detail. Young women were slightly more likely to be buying a house than young men: around 20% of men and 26% of women aged 15 to 35 years had a mortgage. People most likely to have a mortgage were aged 45 to 54 years, with just under 54% still paying off their home. Not surprisingly, those aged 75 years and over were the most likely to own their home outright: 78% of men and 75% of women in this age group (see Table 2.15).
Home ownership rates for men and women have dropped slightly since 2007-08. In 2015-16, 56% of men and 60% of women owned or were buying their homes, a drop of 2.8 and 2.3 percentage points respectively from 2007-08 (see Table 2.14).
Footnote(s): (a) Excludes dependent students aged 15-24 years
Source(s): ABS Survey of Income and Housing (cat. no. 6523.0)
Around three quarters of women who lived in homes that were owned outright were aged 50 years and over (74%). The vast majority of widows living in homes owned outright were aged 65 years and over (86%).
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