In today’s Australian workforce, Women’s labour force participation rate continues to be lower than men’s, according to a new report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The ABS found that in 2013-14, 65 per cent of women aged 20-74 were working, compared to 78 per cent for men of the same age. Over the last five years, men’s participation in the labour force decreased slightly from 79 per cent in 2008-09, while women’s participation remained steady at around 65 per cent. This gap widens with the arrival of children and then reduces as children enter school.
Mothers with dependent children had a much lower labour force participation rate than fathers. While 57.5 per cent of mothers whose youngest child is aged 0-5 years were participating in the paid workforce, 94 per cent of fathers, whose youngest child is 0-5 years, were working.
The age of a mother’s youngest child also had an impact on the average hours that mothers worked. Director of the Living Conditions Section at the ABS, Caroline Daley, said that mothers in the labour force worked more hours per week when their youngest child was school aged, while fathers’ hours of work remained steady regardless of their child’s age.
“Our latest data shows that mothers who worked full-time and have children aged 6-14 years worked on average four hours more per week than working mothers with children aged 0-5 years,” Daley said. "Similarly, mothers who worked part-time and have children aged 6-14 years worked, on average, approximately two hours more per week than those with children aged 0-5 years.”
However, more mothers who have young children are now in the paid workforce compared to five years ago. The participation rate for mothers who have children aged 0-5 years increased 2.5 percentage points from 55 per cent in 2008-09. The participation rate for mothers whose youngest child is school aged (6-14 years) was 78 per cent compared to 92 per cent for working fathers with school aged children (6-14 years).
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