6265.0 - Underemployed Workers, Australia, September 2012 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/02/2013   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


OVERVIEW

The Underemployed Workers Survey found that of the 11.6 million employed people aged 15 years and over in September 2012:

  • 10.7 million (92%) were fully employed; and
  • 877,000 (8%) were not fully employed, of whom 784,000 were underemployed.

Of the 784,000 underemployed workers (see Tables 1 and 2):
  • 730,900 usually worked part-time, but would prefer more hours and were available to start work with more hours either in the reference week, or in the four weeks following the interview; and
  • 53,000 usually worked full-time, but worked part-time hours in the reference week due to economic reasons (for example, no work or not enough work available, been stood down, or on short time).


PART-TIME WORKERS WHO WOULD PREFER MORE HOURS

In September 2012, there were 3.4 million part-time workers, of which 71% (2.4 million) were women.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of all part-time workers stated they would prefer to work more hours. This was the same as the proportion of part-time workers (24%) who said they would prefer to work more hours in September 2011.

Of the 824,100 part-time workers who would prefer more hours (see Tables 1, 2 and 3):
  • 36% were men and 64% were women;
  • just over half (55%) would prefer to work full-time;
  • 89% (730,900) were available for work with more hours, of whom 47% were looking for more work hours; and
  • 93,100 (11%) were not available for work with more hours, of whom 16% were looking for work with more hours.


UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS

Underemployed part-time workers are people who usually work less than 35 hours a week, would prefer to work more hours and are available to start work with more hours within four weeks. In September 2012, there were 730,900 underemployed part-time workers.

Of the underemployed part-time workers (see Tables 1 and 3):
  • 63% were women;
  • 28% of male part-time workers were underemployed, compared with 19% of women; and
  • 61% reported they would prefer not to change their employer to work more hours, 25% would prefer to change employer, while the remaining 14% had no preference.
UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS AS A PROPORTION OF PART-TIME WORKERS, Age-By sex
Graph: UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS AS A PROPORTION OF PART-TIME WORKERS, Age–By sex

UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS AND PART-TIME WORKERS, By age - By sex

Underemployed
part-time workers
Part-time workers
Males
Females
Persons
Males
Females
Persons
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000

Age group (years)
15-19
49.2
64.8
114.0
194.5
275.7
470.2
20-24
58.8
70.9
129.8
188.9
245.8
434.6
25-34
45.1
74.8
120.0
134.4
384.2
518.5
35-44
39.9
96.4
136.3
95.1
552.0
647.1
45-54
37.4
100.0
137.4
114.1
485.4
599.5
55 and over
42.8
50.7
93.5
259.1
439.0
698.1
Total
273.3
457.7
730.9
986.0
2 382.0
3 368.0



There were a higher number of women employed part-time than men. There were also a higher number of women employed part-time who were underemployed (457,700 compared with 273,300 men). However, the proportion of underemployment for part-time workers was higher for men (28%) than women (19%), with the greatest difference for those aged 35-44 years (42% for men and 17% for women) (see Tables 1 and 3).

Underemployed part-time men were more likely to report that they would move to another part of their state if they were offered a suitable job (35%) than women (21%)(see Table 5). Over one quarter (28%) of underemployed part-time men and 14% of women reported that they would move interstate if offered a suitable job.


Duration of current period of insufficient work

The median duration of the current period of insufficient work for underemployed part-time workers was 26 weeks, while the mean duration was 69 weeks (see Table 4). The median is the midpoint of the number of weeks of underemployment while the higher mean was influenced by people who had long spells of underemployment.

UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Duration of current period of insufficient work-By age
Graph: UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Duration of current period of insufficient work–By age


Older people generally had a longer duration of underemployment than younger people (see Table 4). For example, just over 23% of 15-19 year old underemployed part-time workers had experienced insufficient work for one year or more. In contrast, around half of those aged 55 years and over (54%) and those aged 45-54 years (46%), had insufficient work for one year or more.


Preferred total number of hours

Over half (56%) of underemployed part-time workers would prefer to work full-time (35 hours or more per week) (see Table 4). More male underemployed part-time workers wanted to work 35 hours or more per week (69%) than women (48%). Those in the 20-24 and 25-34 age groups were more likely to want to work full-time (e.g. 70% of those aged 25-34 years), while those aged 15-19 years were most (44%) likely to prefer to work a total of less than 30 hours per week.

UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Preferred total number of hours-By age
Graph: UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Preferred total number of hours–By age



Preferred number of extra hours

For underemployed part-time workers, the preferred number of extra hours varied with the number of hours they usually worked (see Table 5). For example, 60% of those who usually worked 1-5 hours a week preferred to work 10 or more extra hours per week, and of those who worked 30-34 hours a week, a similar proportion (61%) preferred to work less than 10 extra hours per week.

UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Preferred number of extra hours-By usual number of hours worked
Graph: UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Preferred number of extra hours–By usual number of hours worked


The mean preferred number of extra hours per week for underemployed part-time workers was 14 hours (see Table 5). The mean preferred number of extra hours was lowest for people aged 15-19 years (13 hours), and highest for those aged 20-24 years (16 hours). On average, men preferred to work an extra 16 hours per week, compared with women who preferred to work an extra 13 hours per week. Men preferred more hours than women in all age groups, except the 20-24 year age group where the difference was not statistically significant.

UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Mean preferred number of extra hours-By age
Graph: UNDEREMPLOYED PART-TIME WORKERS, Mean preferred number of extra hours–By age



Looking for work with more hours

Of the 730,900 underemployed part-time workers, nearly half (343,700) had looked for work with more hours at some time during the four weeks prior to the survey (see Table 6). For male underemployed part-time workers, 52% were looking for work with more hours, compared with 44% for women.

The most common steps taken to look for work with more hours, in the last four weeks, by underemployed part-time workers, were 'asked current employer for more work' (61%), 'searched Internet sites' (59%) and 'contacted prospective employers' (54%) (see Table 7).

Underemployed workers who had looked for work most commonly reported that their main difficulty in finding work with more hours was that there was 'no vacancies in line of work' (20%) (see Table 6). It was the most commonly reported reason for both men (24%) and women (17%). The next most commonly reported specific reason for men was 'no vacancies at all' (10%), whereas women reported 'too many applicants for available jobs' (11%).


UNDEREMPLOYED FULL-TIME WORKERS

There were 8.2 million full-time workers in September 2012, 71% of all employed people (see Table 1). Of those who usually worked full-time, 1.2 million people (15%) had worked less than 35 hours in the reference week in September 2012, with 53,000 (4%) of these people working fewer than 35 hours for economic reasons. Of these 53,000 people, 81% were men.