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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
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PEOPLE WHO WORK FEW HOURS

The ABS definition of employment, used in the Labour Force Survey (LFS), counts as employed anyone who undertook paid work for one hour or more in the reference week of the LFS. From an economic perspective, such work contributes to the production of goods and services and is therefore considered employment, in line with International Labour Organisation standards. However, from a social perspective people who usually work a relatively small number of hours are of interest for a number of reasons. Some of these people may choose to work few hours to allow time for other aspects of their life (e.g. childcare or study). Others may be at risk of experiencing financial disadvantage or of not having their aspirations for work met.

This article examines the characteristics (e.g. age, sex, occupation) of those people who were employed in November 2004 and reported that they usually worked less than eight hours a week.

OVERVIEW

In November 2004 there were 9.8 million people who were employed (table 6.23). Of these, 2.9 million people (or 30%) usually worked less than 35 hours a week in all jobs (i.e. worked part time). (End note 1) About 400,000 people (or 4% of all employed people) usually worked less than eight hours a week.

6.23 EMPLOYED PEOPLE, By hours usually worked in all jobs each week - November 2004

Employed persons

Hours
'000
%

0
29.9
0.3
1-7
369.6
3.8
8-14
563.5
5.8
15-24
1,044.0
10.7
25-34
894.6
9.1
35-39
1,917.1
19.6
40 or more
4,967.7
50.8
Total
9,786.5
100.0

Source: ABS data available on request, Labour Force Survey.


People who usually don't work (i.e. 0 hours usually worked in table 6.23) are counted as employed in the LFS if they actually worked one hour or more in the reference week of the survey. In November 2004 there were about 30,000 people in this category. However, the focus of this article is on people who are working rather than those who usually don't work, so those people who usually don't work have been excluded from the analysis in the rest of this article.


People who work few hours are more likely to be women than men (more than twice as many women as men usually worked 1-7 hours per week in November 2004), but the men who work few hours are more likely than women to want more hours. People who work few hours tend to be young (about 43% of those working these hours were aged 15-24 years in November 2004), are often students, and are most often working as either clerical, sales and service workers or labourers.

In November 2004, relatively few people (12,600 people, or 0.1% of all those who were employed) usually worked one hour per week.

Preference for more hours

In November 2004, most people who usually worked 1-7 hours a week did not want to work more hours. Overall, about one-third (33%) of those people who worked 1-7 hours a week wanted to work more hours (graph 6.24). The proportion was higher for men (38%) than for women (31%). About 13% of people who usually worked 1-7 hours a week had looked for more hours of work at some time in the four weeks before the survey. About 4% of people who usually worked 1-7 hours would have preferred to work full time and were looking for additional work. This proportion was slightly higher for men (7%) than women (4%).

Graph 6.24: PEOPLE WHO USUALLY WORK 1-7 HOURS PER WEEK - November 2004



Underemployed workers

The fact that some people work few hours is of concern if these people are not satisfied with the amount of work they have. One measure that can be used to provide information on this issue is 'underemployed workers'. Underemployed workers are employed people who want, and are available for, more hours of work than they currently have.

In September 2004, about two-thirds (66%) of underemployed people who usually worked 1-7 hours per week wanted less than 19 additional hours of work per week (graph 6.25). (End note 2) There were some differences between the preferences of men and women. About 44% of underemployed men who usually worked 1-7 hours wanted less than 10 extra hours per week, while 26% wanted 30 or more additional hours per week. Underemployed women who usually worked 1-7 hours per week were more likely to want between 10 and 19 extra hours (43% wanted this amount), followed by 1-10 extra hours (26%).

Graph 6.25: NUMBER OF EXTRA HOURS OF WORK WANTED PER WEEK, Underemployed people who usually work 1-7 hours per week - September 2004



AGE AND SEX

In November 2004, almost 70% of the people who usually worked 1-7 hours per week were women. Women were less likely than men to want to work more hours (31% of women working 1-7 hours per week would have preferred to work more hours, compared with 38% of men) (table 6.26).

Men who worked 1-7 hours tended to be concentrated in the younger and older age groups. About 62% of men working these hours were younger than 25 years, and another 22% were aged at least 55 years. For men, working relatively few hours is associated with balancing work with education (see 'Students' below for more detail on people aged 15-24 years who are studying) or with the transition to retirement (for those aged 55 years or older).

In November 2004, people aged 35-44 years who usually worked 1-7 hours per week were more likely to prefer to work more hours than those in other age groups. This was particularly noticeable for men, with 86% wanting more hours. About 40% of women aged 35-44 years would have preferred to work more hours.

Women, like men, who worked 1-7 hours were more likely to be aged 15-24 years than any other age group (35% of women working those hours were in this age group). However, women were much less concentrated in any one age group than men. Almost half (49%) of women working 1-7 hours per week were aged 25-54 years. Many of these women had children who were younger than 15 years (see 'Relationship in household' below for more detail).

6.26 PEOPLE WHO USUALLY WORK 1-7 HOURS PER WEEK, By age - November 2004

People who usually work 1-7 hours per week
Proportion who would prefer to work more hours


Age group (years)
Units
Males
Females
Persons
Males
Females
Persons

15-19
%
48.8
24.7
32.2
36.8
36.9
36.8
20-24
%
13.1
10.3
11.1
37.9
37.0
37.3
25-34
%
5.3
16.4
13.0
*34.9
22.5
24.1
35-44
%
4.7
18.6
14.3
86.1
40.1
44.8
45-54
%
5.7
14.3
11.6
*50.4
31.1
34.0
55 and over
%
22.4
15.7
17.8
29.4
17.2
21.9
Total
%
100.0
100.0
100.0
38.3
31.2
33.4
Persons
’000
114.4
255.3
369.6
43.8
79.7
123.5

Source: ABS data available on request, Labour Force Survey.


Students

Most young people (aged 15-24 years) who were usually working 1-7 hours were balancing part-time work with full-time study or school. In November 2004, over nine out of ten (93%) people who were aged 15-19 years and usually worked 1-7 hours per week were studying full time (either at school or other educational institutions). Of people aged 20-24 years who were working 1-7 hours, 76% were studying full time.

RELATIONSHIP IN HOUSEHOLD

In November 2004, most of the people who usually worked 1-7 hours per week were either dependent students or were women who had children who were less than 15 years old.

Dependent students

Overall, about 32% of people who usually worked 1-7 hours per week were dependent students (table 6.27). (End note 3) About one-quarter (25%) of women working 1-7 hours were dependent students, and nearly half (48%) of the men working 1-7 hours were dependent students. For dependent students the income earned from their employment may be supplementary rather than essential to pay the costs of living.

Women

In November 2004, the largest group of women who usually worked 1-7 hours were those who had a partner and had children who were younger than 15 years (this group made up 31% of all women working few hours), and three-quarters of these did not want to work more hours, suggesting that many of these women were combining work with caring for children, and had a partner's income to supplement their own. Another 6% of women working 1-7 hours per week were single parents with children, and over half (52%) of these women would have preferred to work more hours.

Men

After dependent students, the second largest group of men usually working 1-7 hours per week was those who had a partner but no children (15% of the 114,400 men usually working 1-7 hours per week were in this situation). Most of these men (86%) were 55 years or older. 'Non-dependent child' was the third largest group for men, accounting for 7% of those working 1-7 hours per week in November 2004. (End note 4) Unlike women, the proportion of all men working 1-7 hours per week who had a partner and children was relatively low (4%).

6.27 PEOPLE WHO USUALLY WORK 1-7 HOURS PER WEEK, By sex and relationship in household - November 2004

Relationship in household
Units
Males
Females
Persons

Spouse or partner with
Children under 15 years
%
4.1
30.6
22.4
No children under 15 years, but with dependent students
%
*2.1
2.2
2.2
No dependants but with children aged 15 years or older
%
4.0
4.2
4.1
No children
%
14.9
14.0
14.3
Single parent with
Children under 15 years
%
*0.9
6.4
4.7
No children under 15 years, but with dependent students
%
*-
*0.7
*0.5
No dependants but with children aged 15 years or older
%
*0.4
*1.0
*0.8
Other
Dependent student
%
48.0
25.5
32.4
Non-dependent child
%
6.8
2.8
4.1
Other relative
%
1.5
1.3
1.4
Non-family member not living alone
%
6.4
2.1
3.4
Person living alone
%
6.3
4.9
5.4
Relationship not determined
%
4.6
4.1
4.3
Total
%
100.0
100.0
100.0
Persons
’000
114.4
255.3
369.6


Source: ABS data available on request, Labour Force Survey.


OCCUPATION

In November 2004, the occupations that had the highest proportions of people working 1-7 hours per week were elementary clerical, sales and service workers; advanced clerical and service workers; labourers and related workers; and intermediate clerical, sales and service workers (graph 6.28). These were also the occupations with the highest proportions of people working part time. Generally occupations with a high concentration of people working few hours per week were those which required lower levels of educational qualifications.(End note 5) About 11% of people working as elementary clerical, sales and service workers were working 1-7 hours per week, while 64% of people working in this occupation were part-time workers.

Graph 6.28: PROPORTION OF PART-TIME WORKERS, By occupation - November 2004





End notes


1. People employed part time are those employed people who usually worked less than 35 hours a week in all jobs and either did so during the reference week, or were not at work in the reference week. For the purposes of this article, all people who usually worked less than 35 hours a week are considered to be part time, even if they worked more than 35 hours a week in the reference period. <Back

2. These data come from the Underemployed Workers Survey, not the LFS, and therefore have a different reference period to the rest of the data in this article.<Back

3. Dependent students are those who are 15-24 years of age, attending full-time education, and have no partner or child of their own usually resident in the same household.<Back

4. A non-dependent child is a child of a couple or lone parent usually resident in the household, aged over 15 years and who is not a dependent student aged 15-24 years, and who has no partner or child of their own usually resident in the household.<Back

5. See the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations, Second Edition (1220.0) for information about the skill levels required for different occupations.<Back

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