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The Economic Security section contains the following sub-topics:
Detailed data relating to these sub-topics are available from the Downloads tab of this publication (see Data Cubes 1. Economic Security - Working population and 2. Economic Security - Earnings, income & economic situation and Housing).
Employment and Labour force participation
In 2017–18, almost two-thirds of women (64%) and three quarters of men (75%) aged 20–74 years old were employed, this is referred to as the employment to population ratio. While young women aged 15–19 years old were more likely to be employed than young men (48% compared to 42%), men were otherwise more likely to be employed. The largest difference in employment to population ratios between women and men was for those aged 30–34 years old (71% for women compared to 89% for men). (See Table 1.2, available from the Downloads tab of this publication)
The gender composition of the workforce aged 20–74 years old also differs across occupations and industries. In 2017–18, three in every four 'clerical and administrative workers' are women (75%) and nine out of ten 'machine operators' are men (91%), which has remained largely unchanged over the last decade. While 'managers' are still more likely to be men (63%) this proportion has fallen over the last ten years (See Table 1.6). The industries with the highest proportion of women are 'health care and social assistance' (79%) and 'education and training' (72%), while men dominated the 'construction' (88%) and 'mining' (84%) industries (See Table 1.3). The graphic below demonstrates the gender composition across all industries.
Figure 1 - Proportion of Males and Females (20–74 years old) employed by Industry, 2017–18
Footnote: (a) Data were calculated as an average of four quarters (August, November, February, May) in the financial year. (b) Industry is classified according to the ABS Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0). (c) Labour force population benchmarks are updated when preliminary population estimates become available, and again when these preliminary estimates are subsequently revised. For more information see ABS Labour Force, Australia, Jun 2016 (cat. no. 6202.0).
Source: Data available on request, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force Survey, Australia, cat. no. 6202.0
The labour force participation rate in 2017–18 was also lower for women than for men aged 20–74 years old (67% compared to 78%). This rate includes people who are either employed or looking for work. The participation rate for women has increased over the last ten years but fell for men over the same period (Participation rate was 64% for women and 79% for men in 2007–08). For parents with a child under six the difference in participation is even greater, with 62% of mothers and 94% of fathers participating in the labour force (See Table 1.1 for more detail).
Women are much more likely than men to be working part-time. In 2017–18, 44% of employed women and 16% of employed men aged 20–74 years old worked part-time. The differences in part-time working arrangements were even more pronounced for parents with a child under six, with three in five employed mothers (61%) working part-time compared to less than one in ten employed fathers (7.9%) (See Table 1.9). The average number of hours worked by both women and men working part-time was the same (18 hours per week), however for those working full-time, women worked fewer hours on average than men; 36 hours per week for women compared to 40 hours per week for men (See Table 1.10).
Women are more likely to work in casual jobs than men. In 2018, 27% of female employees aged 15 years and over did not have paid leave entitlements, compared with 23% of male employees. Younger people were most likely to work in jobs without leave entitlements, with around one third of both women and men aged 15-34 in this type of work (36% of women and 33% of men). (See Table 1.12)
In 2017–18, the average unemployment rate was similar for women and men aged 20–74 years old (4.8% and 4.6% respectively). While the unemployment rate for young women aged 15–19 years old was lower than young men (15% compared to 20%), men aged 30–44 years old had lower unemployment rates than women of the same age. For parents with a child under six the unemployment rate for mothers aged 20–74 years old (5.2%) is about double the unemployment rate of fathers (2.4%). (See Table 1.14)
In 2017–18, women were more likely to be underemployed than men (9.4% and 5.8% respectively); that is people in the labour force who wanted, and were available for, more hours of work than they currently had (see Table 1.15).
Adding people who are either unemployed or underemployed together creates an underutilised labour force population, from which an underutilisation rate can be derived. The labour force underutilisation rate in Australia in 2017–18 was higher for women (14%) than it was for men (10%) aged 20–74 years old. While the highest underutilisation rate was for young people aged 15–19 years (41% and 40% respectively for young women and men of this age), the biggest gender difference across age groups was for women and men aged 35–54 (a 6 percentage point difference). (See Table 1.16)
People not in the labour force
In 2017–18, a third of women (33%) and just over one in five men (22%) aged 20–74 years old were not in the labour force. The largest difference was for people aged 30–34 years old, where women (25%) were about three times more likely than men (7.4%) to be out of the labour force (See Table 1.17). This may reflect the age group of women more likely to be having children, and taking a major role in their care, since the median age of mothers at birth in 2016 was 31.2 years,
ENDNOTE: (see Births, 2016 (cat. no. 3301)).
Footnote(s): (a) Data averaged using 12 months in the financial year.
Source(s): Data available on request, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force Survey, Australia, cat. no. 6202.0
Proportions of women and men not in the labour force are quite stable over time, for all age groups.
Earnings, Income and Economic situation
The gender pay gap (GPG) measures the relative position of women and men in the economy. The measures given below present the percentage of a women's wage/earnings over that of a man's wage/earnings using three different methods.
In 2016 the average adult hourly female wage was 89% of the average adult hourly male wage for non-managerial employees. This difference has remained relatively steady over the last decade. This measure includes both full-time and part-time employees and also accounts for the differences in hours worked (see Table 2.1, and Table 1.10 for hours worked).
In 2016 the average adult weekly female earnings were 69% of average adult weekly male earnings and this has also been fairly stable over the last decade. While this measure only includes full-time employees it also includes both ordinary time earnings and overtime earnings (see Table 2.3).
In 2018 the full-time adult average weekly ordinary time female earnings were 85% of the full-time adult average weekly ordinary time male earnings and this has also been fairly stable over the last decade. This is the measure that the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) presents, and only includes the ordinary time earnings of full-time employees.
Figure 3: Female to male rate ratios of weekly earnings, 2008 to 2018 (a)
Footnote: (a) Data points for the Non-managerial adult hour ordinary time cash earnings series and Adult weekly total cash earnings series have been interpolated for the years 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015 due to the collection cycle.
Source: Data available on request, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, cat. no. 6306.0; Data available on request, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, cat. no. 6306.0; Australian Bureau of Statistics, Average Weekly Earnings, cat. No. 6302.0
Retirement income and Superannuation
In 2015–16, a superannuation pension or annuity was the main source of income for one in seven women (14%) and about one in five men (22%) aged 65 years and over who were not in the labour force. While these proportions have increased for both women and men over the past ten years (these proportions were 7.9% and 17% respectively in 2005–6), the difference between women and men has persisted. Government pensions and allowances, on the other hand, were the main source of income for the majority of people aged 65 years and over who were not in the labour force (76% of women and 70% of men in 2015–16). (See Table 2.6)
While the median superannuation balance at, or approaching, preservation age (55–64 years) for both women and men has increased by around two-thirds between 2005–06 and 2015–16, it is still substantially lower for women. In 2015–16 the median superannuation balance was $96,000 for women and $166,000 for men (see Table 2.7).
Just under a quarter (24%) of women aged 15–64 years old had no superannuation coverage at all in 2015–16, compared to one in five men (20%) of the same age. The proportion of persons with no superannuation coverage have dropped over recent years, as has the gap between women and men with no coverage (from a 8.2 percentage point gap in 2005–06 to a 4.2 percentage point gap a decade later). This trend was particularly noticeable for people aged 55–64 years old, where proportions of women with no coverage dropped from 43% to 26%, while those of men dropped from 24% to 16%. (See Table 2.8)
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 women and men with no superannuation coverage lived in areas of most socioeconomic disadvantage, compared with 18% of both women and men 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 31% and 32% of women and men in this age group overall). And they tended to have lower incomes: 34% and 33% respectively of working aged women and men with no superannuation coverage were in the lowest quintile of equivalised household income, compared with 16% of women and 15% of men in this age group overall.
Low economic resource households
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, about one in five women and men (21% and 20% respectively) aged 15 years and over were living in low economic resource households. The rates were much higher for lone parents where about half of lone mothers (47%) and a third of lone fathers (34%) were living in low economic resource households (see Table 2.9).
The proportion of women and men aged 15 years and over living in households with one or more cash flow problems were similar (16% compared to 15%). Lone parents were more likely to report cash flow problems, with two in five lone mothers (40%) and about a quarter of lone fathers (27%) living in households with these issues (see Table 2.12).
In 2015–16, women were 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 more likely to own a home outright (26% compared with 23% of men). Young women were 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 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 and Table 2.16).
Home ownership rates for women and men 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 2.15).
Footnote(s): (a) Excludes dependent students aged 15-24 years
Source(s): Data available on request, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force Survey, Australia
For context regarding the slightly higher proportions of women in houses without a mortgage, 2014 General Social Survey data shows that a higher proportion of women who owned their homes were widows (14%). Around 58% of women living in houses that were owned outright were married, while 11% were divorced or separated, and 17% had never been married. In contrast, 3% of women who did not own their houses were widows, 46% were married, 12% were divorced or separated, and 39% had never been married. Around 5% of men who owned their homes outright were widowers.
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%).
ENDNOTE: For more detail see General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2014 (cat. no. 4159.0).
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