6239.0 - Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation, Australia, July 2012 to June 2013 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/11/2013   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

OVERVIEW

The 2012–13 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS) revealed that of the 17.5 million people aged 18 years and over, there were 9.4 million people who did not work full-time. This group comprised people not in the labour force (5.5 million), unemployed people (530,300), people usually working fewer than 16 hours (1.1 million) and people who usually work 16–34 hours (2.3 million) (Table 1).

Of those 9.4 million people who did not work full-time, approximately 2.6 million (or 28%) indicated that they would like a job or to work more hours. This group comprised (Tables 1 and 16):

  • 1.2 million (or 46%) people who wanted a paid job but were not in the labour force;
  • 530,300 (or 20%) people who were unemployed;
  • 317,300 (or 12%) people who usually worked 0–15 hours per week but wanted to work more hours; and
  • 583,500 (or 22%) people who usually worked 16–34 hours per week but wanted to work more hours.
The remaining 6.7 million people (71%) of those people who did not work full-time:
  • 4.2 million people (62%) did not want a paid job;
  • 767,600 people (11%) worked 0–15 hours per week but did not want more hours; and
  • 1.7 million people (25%) worked 16–34 hours per week but did not want to work more hours (Tables 1 and 16).

Estimates are based on data collected from July 2012 to June 2013.

HISTORICAL COMPARISON

The scope of the 2012–13 survey was expanded to include those who usually worked 16–34 hours per week. Previous surveys only included persons who were not in the labour force, unemployed or who usually worked 0–15 hours per week. Looking across the surveys from 2006–07 to 2012–13 this group has comprised around 40% of the population aged 18 years and over. Looking at this group more closely shows that (Table 1):
  • of people who usually work fewer than 16 hours per week 29% preferred to work more hours, similar to previous years;
  • of those people who want to work more hours the proportion who were available to work more hours was 45% in 2012–13, which was not statistically significant from previous years;
  • the proportion of people not in the labour force who wanted a paid job was around 20% in each survey; and
  • the proportion of people (aged 18 years and over) who were not in the labour force and did not want a paid job was approximately 24% in 2008–09, 2010–11 and 2012–13, but was 26% in 2006–07.

PEOPLE WHO WANTED A JOB OR MORE HOURS

There were 2.6 million people who wanted a job or preferred to work more hours. Determining whether these people are available to work or to work more hours, is important because those who are available have a greater potential to participate or increase their participation in the labour force than those who are not available.

Of the 2.6 million people who wanted a job or preferred more hours:
  • 2.2 million people were available to start work within four weeks. Of these (Tables 1 and 16):
        • 1.2 million people were not looking for work or more hours; and
        • 962,900 people were looking for work or more hours.
  • 452,400 people were not available to start work or work more hours within four weeks.
Women represented 60% of those who wanted a job or preferred more hours. This reflects the fact that more women are working less hours than wanted or not in the labour force than men (Table 1).

Available but not looking for a job or work with more hours

Of the 2.2 million people who wanted a job or more hours and were available to start work within four weeks, 1.2 million people (55%) indicated that they were not looking for a job or more hours. Two thirds of this group were women (797,600 or 65%) (Table 5).

'Caring for children' was a commonly reported main reason for not looking for work or more hours (175,900 people). Women comprised the majority of this group (90% or 158,400). For those people who cited 'caring for children' as their main reason for not looking for work or more hours, 64,900 people (37%) reported they 'preferred to look after children', while 37,800 people (21%) reported childcare 'cost/too expensive' (Table 5).

Another commonly reported main reason for not looking for work or more hours was 'studying/returning to studies' (12% or 146,900 people). Most people who reported this (80% or 117,800) were aged between 18 and 29 years, with 30% of this age group citing it as their main reason (Table 6).

PERSONS AVAILABLE BUT NOT LOOKING FOR A JOB OR WORK WITH MORE HOURS, Selected main reason for not looking for work/more hours, By sex, 2012–13

Graph 1 - Persons available but not looking for a job or work with more hours

Available and looking for a job or work with more hours

There were just under 1.0 million people who wanted a job or more hours, were available, and were looking for work or more hours, of whom (Tables 1, 7 and 16):
  • just over half (53%) were women;
  • 530,300 were unemployed (55%);
  • 402,300 usually worked fewer than 35 hours (42%); and
  • 30,300 were not in the labour force (3%) (these people are defined as not in the labour force rather than unemployed because they were not available to start work in the reference week, but were available to start within four weeks).

One of the main difficulties in finding a job or more work with more hours reported by people who were available and looking was 'no jobs or vacancies in locality or line of work or at all' (170,000 people or 18%). Just over half of those who reported this (55%) were women. 'Too many applicants for available jobs' was another commonly reported difficulty (129,700 people or 14%) (Table 7).

PERSONS AVAILABLE AND LOOKING FOR A JOB OR WORK WITH MORE HOURS, Selected main difficulty finding work/more hours, By sex, 2012–30

Graph 2 - Persons available and looking for a job or work with more hours, selected main difficulty finding work


Not available to start a job or work with more hours

Men and women had different reasons for not being available to start work or more hours within four weeks. About 37% of the 276,500 women who wanted to start work or work more hours but were unavailable reported that 'caring for children' was the main reason for their unavailability. Another commonly reported main reason given by women for not being available was 'long-term sickness or disability' (19% or 53,800). Approximately 40% (or 110,500) of women who were not available to start work or more hours within four weeks reported that they would be available to start work or more hours within six months (Table 4).

Of the 175,900 men who wanted a job or more hours but were not available, approximately half reported that their main reason for unavailability was 'long-term sickness or disability' (50% or 87,100). Of the men not available to start work within four weeks, 32% reported that they would be available to start work or more hours within six months (Table 4).

PERSONS WHO WANTED A JOB OR WORK WITH MORE HOURS, BUT WERE NOT AVAILABLE(a), Selected main reason not available to start work/more hours, By sex, 2012–13

Graph 3 - Persons who wanted a job or work with more hours, but were not available


Preferred weekly hours

Of the 1.2 million people not in the labour force who wanted a job, 76% reported that they would prefer to work part-time hours (69% of men and 80% of women). The average preferred number of hours was 28 hours (Table 8).

PEOPLE WHO DID NOT WANT TO WORK OR WORK MORE HOURS

Seventy two percent (or 6.7 million) of those who were not employed or who worked fewer than 35 hours indicated that they did not want work or to work more hours, respectively. This comprised (Tables 1 and 10):
  • 4.2 million people (2.6 million women and 1.6 million men) who were not in the labour force;
  • 767,600 people (538,300 women and 229,300 men) who usually worked fewer than 16 hours; and
  • 1.7 million people (1.3 million women and 463,100 men) who usually worked 16 to 34 hours.

Of the 767,600 people who usually worked less than 15 hours per week (Tables 1 and 10):
  • 365,500 people (105,500 males and 260,000 females) were 'very satisfied' with their current hours; and
  • 389,400 people (103,900 males and 285,500 females) were 'very satisfied' with their current work arrangements.

Of the 1.7 million people who usually worked 16 to 34 hours per week (Tables 1 and 10):
  • 912,500 people (207,200 males and 705,300 females) were 'very satisfied' with their current hours; and
  • 860,500 people (206,400 males and 654,100 females) were 'very satisfied' with their current work arrangements.

People who were not in the labour force and did not want to work were generally older – 74% of them were aged 55 years and over. Women aged 55 years and over formed the largest single group, representing 43% of those who were not in the labour force and did not want to work, while men of that age represented 31%. Men in the younger age groups represented only a small proportion of those not in the labour force who did not want to work – men aged 18–54 years formed just 7% of this group. In contrast, women aged 18–54 years formed 19% (Table 11).

Of the 4.2 million people not in the labour force who did not want to work, common main reasons for not wanting a job were (Table 11):
  • 'permanently retired from full-time work/will not work full-time again' (33% or 1.4 million);
  • 'no need/satisfied with current arrangements/retired from full-time work (for now)' (23% or 965,200); and
  • 'long-term sickness or disability' (18% or 783,600).

'Long-term sickness or disability' was reported by 23% of men (or 372,300), with almost three-quarters of these aged 55 years and over (72%). Eight percent of people (or 367,900) indicated the main reason that they did not want to work was due to 'caring for children'. Of the 18–29 years age group, 46% reported that 'studying or returning to studies' was the main reason they did not want to work (Table 11).

PERSONS NOT IN THE LABOUR FORCE WHO DID NOT WANT TO WORK, Selected main reason for not wanting work, By sex, 2012–13

Graph 4 - Persons not in the Labour Force who did not want to work, selected main reason for not wanting work

Men and women who usually worked fewer than 35 hours and did not want more hours were relatively young – 56% of them were aged between 18 and 44 years. Women made up three-quarters (72%) of those who worked fewer than 35 hours and who did not want more work (Table 2).

PERSONS WHO USUALLY WORKED FEWER THAN 35 HOURS AND DID NOT WANT TO WORK MORE, Age and sex distribution, 2012–13

Graph 5 - Persons who usually worked fewer than 35 hours(a) and did not want to work more

The most commonly reported main reason that women who usually worked fewer than 35 hours gave for not wanting more hours was 'no need/satisfied with current arrangements/retired from full-time work (for now)' with 39% or 700,600 women giving this response. Another commonly reported reason was 'caring for children' (31% or 557,600 women gave this response). Just under half of women (48%) aged 30–54 years not wanting more hours (or 491,500 women) reported this as the main reason (Table 12).

There were 692,400 men who usually worked fewer than 35 hours and did not want more hours. The most commonly reported main reason given by 52% of these men for not wanting more hours was 'no need/satisfied with current arrangements/retired from full-time work (for now)' – almost half of this group was aged 55 years and over (Table 12).

PERSONS WHO USUALLY WORKED FEWER THAN 35 HOURS AND DID NOT WANT TO WORK MORE, Selected main reason for not wanting more hours, By sex, 2012–13

Graph 6 - Persons who usually worked fewer than 35 hours and did not want to work more, selected main reasons for not wanting more hours


INCENTIVES TO JOIN/INCREASE PARTICIPATION IN THE LABOUR FORCE

Incentives to join the labour force or to increase participation was asked of people aged 18–75 years who were:
  • not in the labour force, excluding those permanently unable to work and those permanently retired; or
  • unemployed; or
  • usually worked less than 35 hours.

A range of incentives that would encourage people to join or increase their participation in the labour force was asked. Incentives have been grouped into the following categories:
  • 'work related';
  • 'skill related';
  • 'finance related';
  • 'childcare related';
  • 'caring related'; and
  • 'other incentives'.

For work related incentives to increase participation in the labour force, 53% of women and 32% of men reported the 'ability to work part-time hours' as 'very important' (Table 13).

For skill related incentives, 40% of people reported 'getting a job that matches skills and experience' as 'very important' (41% of women and 38% of men). In contrast, 36% of people reported 'getting help with job search activities' as 'not important at all'. This was reported by 37% of females and 34% of males (Table 13).

Of people with children or who were caring for children, 53% reported the incentive that was 'very important' to them to join or increase participation in the labour force was 'access to childcare places', with 56% of women and 33% of men reporting this as 'very important'. A similar proportion reported 'financial assistance with childcare costs' as 'very important' (55% of women and 37% of men) (Table 13).

Females were generally more likely to report incentives as 'very important' than males.

SELECTED INCENTIVES TO JOIN/INCREASE PARTICIPATION IN THE LABOUR FORCE, By sex,
2012–13

Graph 7 - Selected incentives to join/increase participation in the Labour Force

For employed people, 61% reported the 'ability to work part-time hours' and 52% reported 'access to childcare places' as 'very important'. For unemployed people, 64% reported 'getting a job that matches skills and experience' and 60% reported 'financial assistance with childcare costs' as 'very important'. For persons not in the labour force, 55% reported 'financial assistance with childcare costs' as 'very important' (Table 14).

SELF ASSESSED HEALTH

For people who usually worked 0 to 34 hours per week, 2.4 million people (or 71%) rated their health as either excellent (1.1 million people) or very good (1.3 million people). Of these, 1.8 million people (74%) did not prefer to work more hours (Table 2).

The majority of people who were unemployed assessed their own health as either very good (213,700 people), good (137,100 people) or fair or poor (66,300 people) (Table 2).

People not in the labour force assessed their own health as either very good (1.6 million people), good (1.4 million people) or fair (1.1 million people). Of these, 3.2 million people (or 78%) did not want a paid job (Table 2).